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Mary Shelley 



Volume I 3 

Letter I 3 

Letter II 9 

Letter III 13 

Letter IV 15 

Chapter I 23 

Chapter II 33 

Chapter III 41 

Chapter IV 49 

Chapter V 57 

Chapter VI 67 


Chapter VII 79 

Volume II 91 

Chapter I 91 

Chapter II 99 

Chapter III 107 

Chapter IV 117 

Chapter V 125 

Chapter VI 133 

Chapter VII 139 

Chapter VIM 149 

Chapter IX 159 

Volume III 169 

Chapter I 169 

Chapter II 179 

Chapter III 189 

Chapter IV 201 

Chapter V 213 

Chapter VI 225 

Chapter VII 233 



The event on which this fiction is founded has been sup- 
posed, by Dr. Darwin, and some of the physiological writers 
of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence. I shall not 
be supposed as according the remotest degree of serious 
faith to such an imagination; yet, in assuming it as the basis 
of a work of fancy, I have not considered myself as merely 
weaving a series of supernatural terrors. The event on which 
the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disad- 
vantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. It was 
recommended by the novelty of the situations which it devel- 
opes; and, however impossible as a physical fact, affords a 
point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human 
passions more comprehensive and commanding than any 
which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield. 

I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the 
elementary principles of human nature, while I have not 
scrupled to innovate upon their combinations. The Iliad, the 
tragic poetry of Greece, — Shakespeare, in the Tempest and 
Midsummer Night's Dream, — and most especially Milton, 
in Paradise Lost, conform to this rule; and the most humble 
novelist, who seeks to confer or receive amusement from his 
labours, may, without presumption, apply to prose fiction a 



licence, or rather a rule, from the adoption of which so many 
exquisite combinations of human feeling have resulted in the 
highest specimens of poetry. 

The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested 
in casual conversation. It was commenced, partly as a 
source of amusement, and partly as an expedient for ex- 
ercising any untried resources of mind. Other motives were 
mingled with these, as the work proceeded. I am by no 
means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral 
tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains 
shall affect the reader; yet my chief concern in this respect 
has been limited to the avoiding of the enervating effects of 
the novels of the present day, and to the exhibition of the 
amiableness of domestic affection, and the excellence of 
universal virtue. The opinions which naturally spring from 
the character and situation of the hero are by no means to 
be conceived as existing always in my own conviction; nor is 
any inference justly to be drawn from the following pages as 
prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind. 

It is a subject also of additional interest to the author, 
that this story was begun in the majestic region where the 
scene is principally laid, and in society which cannot cease 
to be regretted. I passed the summer of 1816 in the en- 
virons of Geneva. The season was cold and rainy, and in 
the evenings we crowded around a blazing wood fire, and 
occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories 
of ghosts, which happened to fall into our hands. These 
tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation. Two other 
friends (a tale from the pen of one of whom would be far 
more acceptable to the public than any thing I can ever hope 
to produce) and myself agreed to write each a story, founded 
on some supernatural occurrence. 

The weather, however, suddenly became serene; and my 


two friends left me on a journey among the Alps, and lost, in 
the magnificent scenes which they present, all memory of 
their ghostly visions. The following tale is the only one which 
has been completed. 


Volume I 

Letter I 

To Mrs. Saville, England. 

St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—. 

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the 
commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded 
with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday; and 
my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare, and 
increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking. 

I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the 
streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play 
upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with 
delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which 
has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, 
gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this 
wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent and 
vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of 
frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination 
as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the 
sun is for ever visible; its broad disk just skirting the horizon, 
and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There — for with your 
leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators 
— there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm 

4 Letter I 

sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and 
in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable 
globe. Its productions and features may be without example, 
as the phaenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are 
in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected 
in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the won- 
drous power which attracts the needle; and may regulate a 
thousand celestial observations, that require only this voyage 
to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever. I 
shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the 
world never before visited, and may tread a land never before 
imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, 
and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death, 
and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with 
the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his 
holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native 
river. But, supposing all these conjectures to be false, you 
cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on 
all mankind to the last generation, by discovering a passage 
near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present 
so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret 
of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected 
by an undertaking such as mine. 

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I 
began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm 
which elevates me to heaven; for nothing contributes so 
much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose, — a point 
on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition 
has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have 
read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which 
have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North 
Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. 
You may remember, that a history of all the voyages made 

Letter I 5 

for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good 
uncle Thomas's library. My education was neglected, yet I 
was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my 
study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased 
that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my 
father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me 
to embark in a sea-faring life. 

These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, 
those poets whose effusions entranced my soul, and lifted it 
to heaven. I also became a poet, and for one year lived in 
a Paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might 
obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and 
Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted with 
my failure, and how heavily I bore the disappointment. But 
just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my 
thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent. 

Six years have passed since I resolved on my present 
undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from which 
I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced 
by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied the whale- 
fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntar- 
ily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often 
worked harder than the common sailors during the day, and 
devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory 
of medicine, and those branches of physical science from 
which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest practical 
advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate 
in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. 
I must own I felt a little proud, when my captain offered me 
the second dignity in the vessel, and entreated me to remain 
with the greatest earnestness; so valuable did he consider 
my services. 

And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish 

6 Letter I 

some great purpose. My life might have been passed in 
ease and luxury; but I preferred glory to every enticement 
that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging 
voice would answer in the affirmative! My courage and my 
resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits 
are often depressed. I am about to proceed on a long and 
difficult voyage; the emergencies of which will demand all my 
fortitude: I am required not only to raise the spirits of others, 
but sometimes to sustain my own, when their's are failing. 

This is the most favourable period for travelling in Russia. 
They fly quickly over the snow in their sledges; the motion is 
pleasant, and, in my opinion, far more agreeable than that of 
an English stage-coach. The cold is not excessive, if you are 
wrapt in furs, a dress which I have already adopted; for there 
is a great difference between walking the deck and remaining 
seated motionless for hours, when no exercise prevents the 
blood from actually freezing in your veins. I have no ambition 
to lose my life on the post-road between St. Petersburgh and 

I shall depart for the latter town in a fortnight or three 
weeks; and my intention is to hire a ship there, which can 
easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and to 
engage as many sailors as I think necessary among those 
who are accustomed to the whale-fishing. I do not intend to 
sail until the month of June: and when shall I return? Ah, 
dear sister, how can I answer this question? If I succeed, 
many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before you and 
I may meet. If I fail, you will see me again soon, or never. 

Farewell, my dear, excellent, Margaret. Heaven shower 
down blessings on you, and save me, that I may again and 
again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness. 

Letter I 

Your affectionate brother, 
R. Walton. 

8 Letter I 

Letter II 

To Mrs. Saville, England. 

Archangel, 28th March, 17— 

How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am by 
frost and snow; yet a second step is taken towards my enter- 
prise. I have hired a vessel, and am occupied in collecting 
my sailors; those whom I have already engaged appear to 
be men on whom I can depend, and are certainly possessed 
of dauntless courage. 

But I have one want which I have never yet been able to 
satisfy; and the absence of the object of which I now feel as 
a most severe evil. I have no friend, Margaret: when I am 
glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none 
to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no 
one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit 
my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium 
for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of 
a man who could sympathize with me; whose eyes would 
reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, 
but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near 
me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well 
as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to 

1 Letter II 

approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair 
the faults of your poor brother! I am too ardent in execution, 
and too impatient of difficulties. But it is a still greater evil 
to me that I am self-educated: for the first fourteen years of 
my life I ran wild on a common, and read nothing but our 
uncle Thomas's books of voyages. At that age I became 
acquainted with the celebrated poets of our own country; but 
it was only when it had ceased to be in my power to derive 
its most important benefits from such a conviction, that I 
perceived the necessity of becoming acquainted with more 
languages than that of my native country. Now I am twenty- 
eight, and am in reality more illiterate than many school-boys 
of fifteen. It is true that I have thought more, and that my 
day dreams are more extended and magnificent; but they 
want (as the painters call it) keeping; and I greatly need a 
friend who would have sense enough not to despise me 
as romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavour to 
regulate my mind. 

Well, these are useless complaints; I shall certainly find 
no friend on the wide ocean, nor even here in Archangel, 
among merchants and seamen. Yet some feelings, unallied 
to the dross of human nature, beat even in these rugged 
bosoms. My lieutenant, for instance, is a man of wonderful 
courage and enterprise; he is madly desirous of glory. He is 
an Englishman, and in the midst of national and professional 
prejudices, unsoftened by cultivation, retains some of the 
noblest endowments of humanity. I first became acquainted 
with him on board a whale vessel: finding that he was un- 
employed in this city, I easily engaged him to assist in my 

The master is a person of an excellent disposition, and is 
remarkable in the ship for his gentleness, and the mildness 
of his discipline. He is, indeed, of so amiable a nature, that 

Letter II 1 1 

he will not hunt (a favourite, and almost the only amusement 
here), because he cannot endure to spill blood. He is, more- 
over, heroically generous. Some years ago he loved a young 
Russian lady, of moderate fortune; and having amassed a 
considerable sum in prize-money, the father of the girl con- 
sented to the match. He saw his mistress once before the 
destined ceremony; but she was bathed in tears, and, throw- 
ing herself at his feet, entreated him to spare her, confessing 
at the same time that she loved another, but that he was 
poor, and that her father would never consent to the union. 
My generous friend reassured the suppliant, and on being 
informed of the name of her lover instantly abandoned his 
pursuit. He had already bought a farm with his money, on 
which he had designed to pass the remainder of his life; but 
he bestowed the whole on his rival, together with the remains 
of his prize-money to purchase stock, and then himself so- 
licited the young woman's father to consent to her marriage 
with her lover. But the old man decidedly refused, thinking 
himself bound in honour to my friend; who, when he found 
the father inexorable, quitted his country, nor returned until 
he heard that his former mistress was married according to 
her inclinations. "What a noble fellow!" you will exclaim. He 
is so; but then he has passed all his life on board a vessel, 
and has scarcely an idea beyond the rope and the shroud. 
But do not suppose that, because I complain a little, or 
because I can conceive a consolation for my toils which I 
may never know, that I am wavering in my resolutions. Those 
are as fixed as fate; and my voyage is only now delayed until 
the weather shall permit my embarkation. The winter has 
been dreadfully severe; but the spring promises well, and it is 
considered as a remarkably early season; so that, perhaps, 
I may sail sooner than I expected. I shall do nothing rashly; 
you know me sufficiently to confide in my prudence and 

12 Letter II 

considerateness whenever the safety of others is committed 
to my care. 

I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near 
prospect of my undertaking. It is impossible to communi- 
cate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half 
pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to 
depart. I am going to unexplored regions, to "the land of mist 
and snow;" but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be 
alarmed for my safety. 

Shall I meet you again, after having traversed immense 
seas, and returned by the most southern cape of Africa or 
America? I dare not expect such success, yet I cannot bear 
to look on the reverse of the picture. Continue to write to me 
by every opportunity: I may receive your letters (though the 
chance is very doubtful) on some occasions when I need 
them most to support my spirits. I love you very tenderly. 
Remember me with affection, should you never hear from 
me again. 

Your affectionate brother, 
Robert Walton. 


To Mrs. Saville, England. 

July 7th, 17—. 


I write a few lines in haste, to say that I am safe, and well 
advanced on my voyage. This letter will reach England by a 
merchant-man now on its homeward voyage from Archangel; 
more fortunate than I, who may not see my native land, 
perhaps, for many years. I am, however, in good spirits: 
my men are bold, and apparently firm of purpose; nor do 
the floating sheets of ice that continually pass us, indicating 
the dangers of the region towards which we are advancing, 
appear to dismay them. We have already reached a very 
high latitude; but it is the height of summer, and although not 
so warm as in England, the southern gales, which blow us 
speedily towards those shores which I so ardently desire to 
attain, breathe a degree of renovating warmth which I had 
not expected. 

No incidents have hitherto befallen us, that would make a 
figure in a letter. One or two stiff gales, and the breaking of a 
mast, are accidents which experienced navigators scarcely 


14 Letter III 

remember to record; and I shall be well content, if nothing 
worse happen to us during our voyage. 

Adieu, my dear Margaret. Be assured, that for my own 
sake, as well as your's, I will not rashly encounter danger. I 
will be cool, persevering, and prudent. 

Remember me to all my English friends. 

Most affectionately yours, 
R. W. 

Letter IV 

To Mrs. Saville, England. 

August 5th, 17— 

So strange an accident has happened to us, that I cannot 
forbear recording it, although it is very probable that you will 
see me before these papers can come into your possession. 

Last Monday (July 31st), we were nearly surrounded by 
ice, which closed in the ship on all sides, scarcely leaving 
her the sea room in which she floated. Our situation was 
somewhat dangerous, especially as we were compassed 
round by a very thick fog. We accordingly lay to, hoping 
that some change would take place in the atmosphere and 

About two o'clock the mist cleared away, and we beheld, 
stretched out in every direction, vast and irregular plains of 
ice, which seemed to have no end. Some of my comrades 
groaned, and my own mind began to grow watchful with anx- 
ious thoughts, when a strange sight suddenly attracted our 
attention, and diverted our solicitude from our own situation. 
We perceived a low carriage, fixed on a sledge and drawn 
by dogs, pass on towards the north, at the distance of half a 
mile: a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently 


16 Letter IV 

of gigantic stature, sat in the sledge, and guided the dogs. 
We watched the rapid progress of the traveller with our tele- 
scopes, until he was lost among the distant inequalities of 
the ice. 

This appearance excited our unqualified wonder. We 
were, as we believed, many hundred miles from any land; 
but this apparition seemed to denote that it was not, in reality, 
so distant as we had supposed. Shut in, however, by ice, it 
was impossible to follow his track, which we had observed 
with the greatest attention. 

About two hours after this occurrence, we heard the 
ground sea; and before night the ice broke, and freed our 
ship. We, however, lay to until the morning, fearing to en- 
counter in the dark those large loose masses which float 
about after the breaking up of the ice. I profited of this time 
to rest for a few hours. 

In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went 
upon deck, and found all the sailors busy on one side of 
the vessel, apparently talking to some one in the sea. It 
was, in fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before, which 
had drifted towards us in the night, on a large fragment of 
ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human 
being within it, whom the sailors were persuading to enter 
the vessel. He was not, as the other traveller seemed to 
be, a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island, but 
an European. When I appeared on deck, the master said, 
"Here is our captain, and he will not allow you to perish on 
the open sea." 

On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English, 
although with a foreign accent. "Before I come on board your 
vessel," said he, "will you have the kindness to inform me 
whither you are bound?" 

You may conceive my astonishment on hearing such 

Letter IV 1 7 

a question addressed to me from a man on the brink of 
destruction, and to whom I should have supposed that my 
vessel would have been a resource which he would not have 
exchanged for the most precious wealth the earth can afford. 
I replied, however, that we were on a voyage of discovery 
towards the northern pole. 

Upon hearing this he appeared satisfied, and consented 
to come on board. Good God! Margaret, if you had seen the 
man who thus capitulated for his safety, your surprise would 
have been boundless. His limbs were nearly frozen, and his 
body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never 
saw a man in so wretched a condition. We attempted to carry 
him into the cabin; but as soon as he had quitted the fresh 
air, he fainted. We accordingly brought him back to the deck, 
and restored him to animation by rubbing him with brandy, 
and forcing him to swallow a small quantity. As soon as he 
shewed signs of life, we wrapped him up in blankets, and 
placed him near the chimney of the kitchen-stove. By slow 
degrees he recovered, and ate a little soup, which restored 
him wonderfully. 

Two days passed in this manner before he was able to 
speak; and I often feared that his sufferings had deprived him 
of understanding. When he had in some measure recovered, 
I removed him to my own cabin, and attended on him as 
much as my duty would permit. I never saw a more inter- 
esting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of 
wildness, and even madness; but there are moments when, 
if any one performs an act of kindness towards him, or does 
him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance 
is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and 
sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally 
melancholy and despairing; and sometimes he gnashes his 
teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses 

18 Letter IV 


When my guest was a little recovered, I had great trouble 
to keep off the men, who wished to ask him a thousand 
questions; but I would not allow him to be tormented by their 
idle curiosity, in a state of body and mind whose restoration 
evidently depended upon entire repose. Once, however, the 
lieutenant asked, Why he had come so far upon the ice in so 
strange a vehicle? 

His countenance instantly assumed an aspect of the 
deepest gloom; and he replied, "To seek one who fled from 

"And did the man whom you pursued travel in the same 


"Then I fancy we have seen him; for, the day before we 
picked you up, we saw some dogs drawing a sledge, with a 
man in it, across the ice." 

This aroused the stranger's attention; and he asked a 
multitude of questions concerning the route which the dae- 
mon, as he called him, had pursued. Soon after, when he 
was alone with me, he said, "I have, doubtless, excited your 
curiosity, as well as that of these good people; but you are 
too considerate to make inquiries." 

"Certainly; it would indeed be very impertinent and inhu- 
man in me to trouble you with any inquisitiveness of mine." 

"And yet you rescued me from a strange and perilous 
situation; you have benevolently restored me to life." 

Soon after this he inquired, if I thought that the breaking 
up of the ice had destroyed the other sledge? I replied, that 
I could not answer with any degree of certainty; for the ice 
had not broken until near midnight, and the traveller might 
have arrived at a place of safety before that time; but of this I 
could not judge. 

Letter IV 19 

From this time the stranger seemed very eager to be 
upon deck, to watch for the sledge which had before ap- 
peared; but I have persuaded him to remain in the cabin, for 
he is far too weak to sustain the rawness of the atmosphere. 
But I have promised that some one should watch for him, 
and give him instant notice if any new object should appear 
in sight. 

Such is my journal of what relates to this strange occur- 
rence up to the present day. The stranger has gradually 
improved in health, but is very silent, and appears uneasy 
when any one except myself enters his cabin. Yet his man- 
ners are so conciliating and gentle, that the sailors are all 
interested in him, although they have had very little commu- 
nication with him. For my own part, I begin to love him as a 
brother; and his constant and deep grief fills me with sympa- 
thy and compassion. He must have been a noble creature in 
his better days, being even now in wreck so attractive and 

I said in one of my letters, my dear Margaret, that I should 
find no friend on the wide ocean; yet I have found a man who, 
before his spirit had been broken by misery, I should have 
been happy to have possessed as the brother of my heart. 

I shall continue my journal concerning the stranger at 
intervals, should I have any fresh incidents to record. 

August 13th, 17—. 

My affection for my guest increases every day. He excites 
at once my admiration and my pity to an astonishing degree. 
How can I see so noble a creature destroyed by misery 
without feeling the most poignant grief? He is so gentle, 
yet so wise; his mind is so cultivated; and when he speaks, 
although his words are culled with the choicest art, yet they 
flow with rapidity and unparalleled eloquence. 

20 Letter IV 

He is now much recovered from his illness, and is con- 
tinually on the deck, apparently watching for the sledge that 
preceded his own. Yet, although unhappy, he is not so utterly 
occupied by his own misery, but that he interests himself 
deeply in the employments of others. He has asked me 
many questions concerning my design; and I have related 
my little history frankly to him. He appeared pleased with the 
confidence, and suggested several alterations in my plan, 
which I shall find exceedingly useful. There is no pedantry 
in his manner; but all he does appears to spring solely from 
the interest he instinctively takes in the welfare of those who 
surround him. He is often overcome by gloom, and then 
he sits by himself, and tries to overcome all that is sullen 
or unsocial in his humour. These paroxysms pass from him 
like a cloud from before the sun, though his dejection never 
leaves him. I have endeavoured to win his confidence; and I 
trust that I have succeeded. One day I mentioned to him the 
desire I had always felt of finding a friend who might sympa- 
thize with me, and direct me by his counsel. I said, I did not 
belong to that class of men who are offended by advice. "I 
am self-educated, and perhaps I hardly rely sufficiently upon 
my own powers. I wish therefore that my companion should 
be wiser and more experienced than myself, to confirm and 
support me; nor have I believed it impossible to find a true 

"I agree with you," replied the stranger, "in believing that 
friendship is not only a desirable, but a possible acquisition. 
I once had a friend, the most noble of human creatures, and 
am entitled, therefore, to judge respecting friendship. You 
have hope, and the world before you, and have no cause for 

despair. But I I have lost every thing, and cannot begin 

life anew." 

As he said this, his countenance became expressive of a 

Letter IV 21 

calm settled grief, that touched me to the heart. But he was 
silent, and presently retired to his cabin. 

Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more 
deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, 
the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, 
seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. 
Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, 
and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet when he has 
retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit, that has a 
halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures. 

Will you laugh at the enthusiasm I express concerning 
this divine wanderer? If you do, you must have certainly lost 
that simplicity which was once your characteristic charm. Yet, 
if you will, smile at the warmth of my expressions, while I find 
every day new causes for repeating them. 

August 19th, 17—. 

Yesterday the stranger said to me, "You may easily per- 
ceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparal- 
leled misfortunes. I had determined, once, that the memory 
of these evils should die with me; but you have won me to 
alter my determination. You seek for knowledge and wisdom, 
as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of 
your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has 
been. I do not know that the relation of my misfortunes will 
be useful to you, yet, if you are inclined, listen to my tale. I 
believe that the strange incidents connected with it will afford 
a view of nature, which may enlarge your faculties and un- 
derstanding. You will hear of powers and occurrences, such 
as you have been accustomed to believe impossible: but I do 
not doubt that my tale conveys in its series internal evidence 
of the truth of the events of which it is composed." 

You may easily conceive that I was much gratified by 

22 Letter IV 

the offered communication; yet I could not endure that he 
should renew his grief by a recital of his misfortunes. I felt 
the greatest eagerness to hear the promised narrative, partly 
from curiosity and partly from a strong desire to ameliorate 
his fate, if it were in my power. I expressed these feelings in 
my answer. 

"I thank you," he replied, "for your sympathy, but it is 
useless; my fate is nearly fulfilled. I wait but for one event, 
and then I shall repose in peace. I understand your feeling," 
continued he, perceiving that I wished to interrupt him; "but 
you are mistaken, my friend, if thus you will allow me to name 
you; nothing can alter my destiny: listen to my history, and 
you will perceive how irrevocably it is determined." 

He then told me, that he would commence his narrative 
the next day when I should be at leisure. This promise drew 
from me the warmest thanks. I have resolved every night, 
when I am not engaged, to record, as nearly as possible in 
his own words, what he has related during the day. If I should 
be engaged, I will at least make notes. This manuscript will 
doubtless afford you the greatest pleasure: but to me, who 
know him, and who hear it from his own lips, with what 
interest and sympathy shall I read it in some future day! 

Chapter I 

I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most 
distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for 
many years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled 
several public situations with honour and reputation. He was 
respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefati- 
gable attention to public business. He passed his younger 
days perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; and 
it was not until the decline of life that he thought of marrying, 
and bestowing on the state sons who might carry his virtues 
and his name down to posterity. 

As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his char- 
acter, I cannot refrain from relating them. One of his most 
intimate friends was a merchant, who, from a flourishing 
state, fell, through numerous mischances, into poverty. This 
man, whose name was Beaufort, was of a proud and un- 
bending disposition, and could not bear to live in poverty and 
oblivion in the same country where he had formerly been 
distinguished for his rank and magnificence. Having paid 
his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner, he re- 
treated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne, where he 
lived unknown and in wretchedness. My father loved Beau- 
fort with the truest friendship, and was deeply grieved by his 


24 Chapter I 

retreat in these unfortunate circumstances. He grieved also 
for the loss of his society, and resolved to seek him out and 
endeavour to persuade him to begin the world again through 
his credit and assistance. 

Beaufort had taken effectual measures to conceal him- 
self; and it was ten months before my father discovered 
his abode. Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the 
house, which was situated in a mean street, near the Reuss. 
But when he entered, misery and despair alone welcomed 
him. Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money 
from the wreck of his fortunes; but it was sufficient to pro- 
vide him with sustenance for some months, and in the mean 
time he hoped to procure some respectable employment in 
a merchant's house. The interval was consequently spent 
in inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling, 
when he had leisure for reflection; and at length it took so 
fast hold of his mind, that at the end of three months he lay 
on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertion. 

His daughter attended him with the greatest tenderness; 
but she saw with despair that their little fund was rapidly 
decreasing, and that there was no other prospect of support. 
But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon 
mould; and her courage rose to support her in her adversity. 
She procured plain work; she plaited straw; and by various 
means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely sufficient to 
support life. 

Several months passed in this manner. Her father grew 
worse; her time was more entirely occupied in attending 
him; her means of subsistence decreased; and in the tenth 
month her father died in her arms, leaving her an orphan 
and a beggar. This last blow overcame her; and she knelt by 
Beaufort's coffin, weeping bitterly, when my father entered 
the chamber. He came like a protecting spirit to the poor girl, 

Chapter I 25 

who committed herself to his care, and after the interment 
of his friend he conducted her to Geneva, and placed her 
under the protection of a relation. Two years after this event 
Caroline became his wife. 

When my father became a husband and a parent, he 
found his time so occupied by the duties of his new situation, 
that he relinquished many of his public employments, and 
devoted himself to the education of his children. Of these I 
was the eldest, and the destined successor to all his labours 
and utility. No creature could have more tender parents than 
mine. My improvement and health were their constant care, 
especially as I remained for several years their only child. 
But before I continue my narrative, I must record an incident 
which took place when I was four years of age. 

My father had a sister, whom he tenderly loved, and who 
had married early in life an Italian gentleman. Soon after 
her marriage, she had accompanied her husband into her 
native country, and for some years my father had very little 
communication with her. About the time I mentioned she 
died; and a few months afterwards he received a letter from 
her husband, acquainting him with his intention of marrying 
an Italian lady, and requesting my father to take charge of 
the infant Elizabeth, the only child of his deceased sister. "It 
is my wish," he said, "that you should consider her as your 
own daughter, and educate her thus. Her mother's fortune is 
secured to her, the documents of which I will commit to your 
keeping. Reflect upon this proposition; and decide whether 
you would prefer educating your niece yourself to her being 
brought up by a stepmother." 

My father did not hestitate, and immediately went to Italy, 
that he might accompany the little Elizabeth to her future 
home. I have often heard my mother say, that she was at 
that time the most beautiful child she had ever seen, and 

26 Chapter I 

shewed signs even then of a gentle and affectionate dispo- 
sition. These indications, and a desire to bind as closely as 
possible the ties of domestic love, determined my mother 
to consider Elizabeth as my future wife; a design which she 
never found reason to repent. 

From this time Elizabeth Lavenza became my playfellow, 
and, as we grew older, my friend. She was docile and good 
tempered, yet gay and playful as a summer insect. Although 
she was lively and animated, her feelings were strong and 
deep, and her disposition uncommonly affectionate. No one 
could better enjoy liberty, yet no one could submit with more 
grace than she did to constraint and caprice. Her imagination 
was luxuriant, yet her capability of application was great. Her 
person was the image of her mind; her hazel eyes, although 
as lively as a bird's, possessed an attractive softness. Her 
figure was light and airy; and, though capable of enduring 
great fatigue, she appeared the most fragile creature in the 
world. While I admired her understanding and fancy, I loved 
to tend on her, as I should on a favourite animal; and I never 
saw so much grace both of person and mind united to so 
little pretension. 

Every one adored Elizabeth. If the servants had any 
request to make, it was always through her intercession. We 
were strangers to any species of disunion and dispute; for 
although there was a great dissimilitude in our characters, 
there was an harmony in that very dissimilitude. I was more 
calm and philosophical than my companion; yet my temper 
was not so yielding. My application was of longer endurance; 
but it was not so severe whilst it endured. I delighted in 
investigating the facts relative to the actual world; she busied 
herself in following the aerial creations of the poets. The 
world was to me a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it 
was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations 

Chapter I 27 

of her own. 

My brothers were considerably younger than myself; but I 
had a friend in one of my schoolfellows, who compensated for 
this deficiency. Henry Clerval was the son of a merchant of 
Geneva, an intimate friend of my father. He was a boy of sin- 
gular talent and fancy. I remember, when he was nine years 
old, he wrote a fairy tale, which was the delight and amaze- 
ment of all his companions. His favourite study consisted in 
books of chivalry and romance; and when very young, I can 
remember, that we used to act plays composed by him out 
of these favourite books, the principal characters of which 
were Orlando, Robin Hood, Amadis, and St. George. 

No youth could have passed more happily than mine. My 
parents were indulgent, and my companions amiable. Our 
studies were never forced; and by some means we always 
had an end placed in view, which excited us to ardour in 
the prosecution of them. It was by this method, and not by 
emulation, that we were urged to application. Elizabeth was 
not incited to apply herself to drawing, that her companions 
might not outstrip her; but through the desire of pleasing her 
aunt, by the representation of some favourite scene done 
by her own hand. We learned Latin and English, that we 
might read the writings in those languages; and so far from 
study being made odious to us through punishment, we 
loved application, and our amusements would have been 
the labours of other children. Perhaps we did not read so 
many books, or learn languages so quickly, as those who are 
disciplined according to the ordinary methods; but what we 
learned was impressed the more deeply on our memories. 

In this description of our domestic circle I include Henry 
Clerval; for he was constantly with us. He went to school 
with me, and generally passed the afternoon at our house; 
for being an only child, and destitute of companions at home, 

28 Chapter I 

his father was well pleased that he should find associates 
at our house; and we were never completely happy when 
Clerval was absent. 

I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of child- 
hood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed 
its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and 
narrow reflections upon self. But, in drawing the picture of 
my early days, I must not omit to record those events which 
led, by insensible steps to my after tale of misery: for when I 
would account to myself for the birth of that passion, which af- 
terwards ruled my destiny, I find it arise, like a mountain river, 
from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as 
it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has 
swept away all my hopes and joys. 

Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my 
fate; I desire therefore, in this narration, to state those facts 
which led to my predilection for that science. When I was 
thirteen years of age, we all went on a party of pleasure 
to the baths near Thonon: the inclemency of the weather 
obliged us to remain a day confined to the inn. In this house 
I chanced to find a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa. 
I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to 
demonstrate, and the wonderful facts which he relates, soon 
changed this feeling into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to 
dawn upon my mind; and, bounding with joy, I communicated 
my discovery to my father. I cannot help remarking here 
the many opportunities instructors possess of directing the 
attention of their pupils to useful knowledge, which they 
utterly neglect. My father looked carelessly at the title-page 
of my book, and said, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear 
Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash." 

If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains, to 
explain to me, that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely 

Chapter I 29 

exploded, and that a modern system of science had been 
introduced, which possessed much greater powers than the 
ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimerical, 
while those of the former were real and practical; under 
such circumstances, I should certainly have thrown Agrippa 
aside, and, with my imagination warmed as it was, should 
probably have applied myself to the more rational theory 
of chemistry which has resulted from modern discoveries. 
It is even possible, that the train of my ideas would never 
have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin. But the 
cursory glance my father had taken of my volume by no 
means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents; 
and I continued to read with the greatest avidity. 

When I returned home, my first care was to procure the 
whole works of this author, and afterwards of Paracelsus 
and Albertus Magnus. I read and studied the wild fancies 
of these writers with delight; they appeared to me treasures 
known to few beside myself; and although I often wished 
to communicate these secret stores of knowledge to my 
father, yet his indefinite censure of my favourite Agrippa 
always withheld me. I disclosed my discoveries to Elizabeth, 
therefore, under a promise of strict secrecy; but she did not 
interest herself in the subject, and I was left by her to pursue 
my studies alone. 

It may appear very strange, that a disciple of Albertus 
Magnus should arise in the eighteenth century; but our fam- 
ily was not scientifical, and I had not attended any of the 
lectures given at the schools of Geneva. My dreams were 
therefore undisturbed by reality; and I entered with the great- 
est diligence into the search of the philosopher's stone and 
the elixir of life. But the latter obtained my most undivided 
attention: wealth was an inferior object; but what glory would 
attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the hu- 

30 Chapter I 

man frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent 

Nor were these my only visions. The raising of ghosts 
or devils was a promise liberally accorded by my favourite 
authors, the fulfilment of which I most eagerly sought; and if 
my incantations were always unsuccessful, I attributed the 
failure rather to my own inexperience and mistake, than to a 
want of skill or fidelity in my instructors. 

The natural phenomena that take place every day be- 
fore our eyes did not escape my examinations. Distillation, 
and the wonderful effects of steam, processes of which my 
favourite authors were utterly ignorant, excited my astonish- 
ment; but my utmost wonder was engaged by some experi- 
ments on an air-pump, which I saw employed by a gentleman 
whom we were in the habit of visiting. 

The ignorance of the early philosophers on these and 
several other points served to decrease their credit with me: 
but I could not entirely throw them aside, before some other 
system should occupy their place in my mind. 

When I was about fifteen years old, we had retired to 
our house near Belrive, when we witnessed a most violent 
and terrible thunder-storm. It advanced from behind the 
mountains of Jura; and the thunder burst at once with frightful 
loudness from various quarters of the heavens. I remained, 
while the storm lasted, watching its progress with curiosity 
and delight. As I stood at the door, on a sudden I beheld 
a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak, which 
stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as 
the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and 
nothing remained but a blasted stump. When we visited it 
the next morning, we found the tree shattered in a singular 
manner. It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely 
reduced to thin ribbands of wood. I never beheld any thing 

Chapter I 31 

so utterly destroyed. 

The catastrophe of this tree excited my extreme aston- 
ishment; and I eagerly inquired of my father the nature and 
origin of thunder and lightning. He replied, "Electricity;" de- 
scribing at the same time the various effects of that power. 
He constructed a small electrical machine, and exhibited a 
few experiments; he made also a kite, with a wire and string, 
which drew down that fluid from the clouds. 

This last stroke completed the overthrow of Cornelius 
Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, who had so long 
reigned the lords of my imagination. But by some fatality I did 
not feel inclined to commence the study of any modern sys- 
tem; and this disinclination was influenced by the following 

My father expressed a wish that I should attend a course 
of lectures upon natural philosophy, to which I cheerfully 
consented. Some accident prevented my attending these 
lectures until the course was nearly finished. The lecture, 
being therefore one of the last, was entirely incomprehensible 
to me. The professor discoursed with the greatest fluency 
of potassium and boron, of sulphates and oxyds, terms to 
which I could affix no idea; and I became disgusted with the 
science of natural philosophy, although I still read Pliny and 
Buffon with delight, authors, in my estimation, of nearly equal 
interest and utility. 

My occupations at this age were principally the mathe- 
matics, and most of the branches of study appertaining to 
that science. I was busily employed in learning languages; 
Latin was already familiar to me, and I began to read some 
of the easiest Greek authors without the help of a lexicon. I 
also perfectly understood English and German. This is the 
list of my accomplishments at the age of seventeen; and you 
may conceive that my hours were fully employed in acquiring 

32 Chapter I 

and maintaining a knowledge of this various literature. 

Another task also devolved upon me, when I became the 
instructor of my brothers. Ernest was six years younger than 
myself, and was my principal pupil. He had been afflicted 
with ill health from his infancy, through which Elizabeth and 
I had been his constant nurses: his disposition was gentle, 
but he was incapable of any severe application. William, 
the youngest of our family, was yet an infant, and the most 
beautiful little fellow in the world; his lively blue eyes, dim- 
pled cheeks, and endearing manners, inspired the tenderest 

Such was our domestic circle, from which care and pain 
seemed for ever banished. My father directed our studies, 
and my mother partook of our enjoyments. Neither of us 
possessed the slightest pre-eminence over the other; the 
voice of command was never heard amongst us; but mutual 
affection engaged us all to comply with and obey the slightest 
desire of each other. 

Chapter II 

When I had attained the age of seventeen, my parents re- 
solved that I should become a student at the university of 
Ingolstadt. I had hitherto attended the schools of Geneva; 
but my father thought it necessary for the completion of my 
education, that I should be made acquainted with other cus- 
toms than those of my native country. My departure was 
therefore fixed at an early date; but, before the day resolved 
upon could arrive, the first misfortune of my life occurred — 
an omen, as it were, of my future misery. 

Elizabeth had caught the scarlet fever; but her illness 
was not severe, and she quickly recovered. During her con- 
finement, many arguments had been urged to persuade 
my mother to refrain from attending upon her. She had, at 
first, yielded to our entreaties; but when she heard that her 
favourite was recovering, she could no longer debar herself 
from her society, and entered her chamber long before the 
danger of infection was past. The consequences of this im- 
prudence were fatal. On the third day my mother sickened; 
her fever was very malignant, and the looks of her attendants 
prognosticated the worst event. On her death-bed the forti- 
tude and benignity of this admirable woman did not desert 
her. She joined the hands of Elizabeth and myself: "My 


34 Chapter II 

children," she said, "my firmest hopes of future happiness 
were placed on the prospect of your union. This expectation 
will now be the consolation of your father. Elizabeth, my love, 
you must supply my place to your younger cousins. Alas! 
I regret that I am taken from you; and, happy and beloved 
as I have been, is it not hard to quit you all? But these are 
not thoughts befitting me; I will endeavour to resign myself 
cheerfully to death, and will indulge a hope of meeting you 
in another world." 

She died calmly; and her countenance expressed affec- 
tion even in death. I need not describe the feelings of those 
whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil, the 
void that presents itself to the soul, and the despair that is 
exhibited on the countenance. It is so long before the mind 
can persuade itself that she, whom we saw every day, and 
whose very existence appeared a part of our own, can have 
departed for ever — that the brightness of a beloved eye can 
have been extinguished, and the sound of a voice so famil- 
iar, and dear to the ear, can be hushed, never more to be 
heard. These are the reflections of the first days; but when 
the lapse of time proves the reality of the evil, then the actual 
bitterness of grief commences. Yet from whom has not that 
rude hand rent away some dear connexion; and why should 
I describe a sorrow which all have felt, and must feel? The 
time at length arrives, when grief is rather an indulgence than 
a necessity; and the smile that plays upon the lips, although 
it may be deemed a sacrilege, is not banished. My mother 
was dead, but we had still duties which we ought to perform; 
we must continue our course with the rest, and learn to think 
ourselves fortunate, whilst one remains whom the spoiler 
has not seized. 

My journey to Ingolstadt, which had been deferred by 
these events, was now again determined upon. I obtained 

Chapter II 35 

from my father a respite of some weeks. This period was 
spent sadly; my mother's death, and my speedy departure, 
depressed our spirits; but Elizabeth endeavoured to renew 
the spirit of cheerfulness in our little society. Since the death 
of her aunt, her mind had acquired new firmness and vigour. 
She determined to fulfil her duties with the greatest exact- 
ness; and she felt that that most imperious duty, of rendering 
her uncle and cousins happy, had devolved upon her. She 
consoled me, amused her uncle, instructed my brothers; and 
I never beheld her so enchanting as at this time, when she 
was continually endeavouring to contribute to the happiness 
of others, entirely forgetful of herself. 

The day of my departure at length arrived. I had taken 
leave of all my friends, excepting Clerval, who spent the last 
evening with us. He bitterly lamented that he was unable 
to accompany me: but his father could not be persuaded to 
part with him, intending that he should become a partner 
with him in business, in compliance with his favourite theory, 
that learning was superfluous in the commerce of ordinary 
life. Henry had a refined mind; he had no desire to be idle, 
and was well pleased to become his father's partner, but he 
believed that a man might be a very good trader, and yet 
possess a cultivated understanding. 

We sat late, listening to his complaints, and making many 
little arrangements for the future. The next morning early 
I departed. Tears gushed from the eyes of Elizabeth; they 
proceeded partly from sorrow at my departure, and partly 
because she reflected that the same journey was to have 
taken place three months before, when a mother's blessing 
would have accompanied me. 

I threw myself into the chaise that was to convey me away, 
and indulged in the most melancholy reflections. I, who had 
ever been surrounded by amiable companions, continually 

36 Chapter II 

engaged in endeavouring to bestow mutual pleasure, I was 
now alone. In the university, whither I was going, I must form 
my own friends, and be my own protector. My life had hitherto 
been remarkably secluded and domestic; and this had given 
me invincible repugnance to new countenances. I loved my 
brothers, Elizabeth, and Clerval; these were "old familiar 
faces;" but I believed myself totally unfitted for the company 
of strangers. Such were my reflections as I commenced my 
journey; but as I proceeded, my spirits and hopes rose. I 
ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge. I had often, 
when at home, thought it hard to remain during my youth 
cooped up in one place, and had longed to enter the world, 
and take my station among other human beings. Now my 
desires were complied with, and it would, indeed, have been 
folly to repent. 

I had sufficient leisure for these and many other reflec- 
tions during my journey to Ingolstadt, which was long and 
fatiguing. At length the high white steeple of the town met my 
eyes. I alighted, and was conducted to my solitary apartment, 
to spend the evening as I pleased. 

The next morning I delivered my letters of introduction, 
and paid a visit to some of the principal professors, and 
among others to M. Krempe, professor of natural philoso- 
phy. He received me with politeness, and asked me several 
questions concerning my progress in the different branches 
of science appertaining to natural philosophy. I mentioned, it 
is true, with fear and trembling, the only authors I had ever 
read upon those subjects. The professor stared: "Have you," 
he said, "really spent your time in studying such nonsense?" 

I replied in the affirmative. "Every minute," continued 
M. Krempe with warmth, "every instant that you have wasted 
on those books is utterly and entirely lost. You have burdened 
your memory with exploded systems, and useless names. 

Chapter II 37 

Good God! in what desert land have you lived, where no 
one was kind enough to inform you that these fancies, which 
you have so greedily imbibed, are a thousand years old, 
and as musty as they are ancient? I little expected in this 
enlightened and scientific age to find a disciple of Albertus 
Magnus and Paracelsus. My dear Sir, you must begin your 
studies entirely anew." 

So saying, he stept aside, and wrote down a list of several 
books treating of natural philosophy, which he desired me 
to procure, and dismissed me, after mentioning that in the 
beginning of the following week he intended to commence 
a course of lectures upon natural philosophy in its general 
relations, and that M. Waldman, a fellow-professor, would 
lecture upon chemistry the alternate days that he missed. 

I returned home, not disappointed, for I had long con- 
sidered those authors useless whom the professor had 
so strongly reprobated; but I did not feel much inclined to 
study the books which I procured at his recommendation. 
M. Krempe was a little squat man, with a gruff voice and repul- 
sive countenance; the teacher, therefore, did not prepossess 
me in favour of his doctrine. Besides, I had a contempt for 
the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very differ- 
ent, when the masters of the science sought immortality and 
power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the 
scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed 
to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my 
interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to 
exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of 
little worth. 

Such were my reflections during the first two or three 
days spent almost in solitude. But as the ensuing week 
commenced, I thought of the information which M. Krempe 
had given me concerning the lectures. And although I could 

38 Chapter II 

not consent to go and hear that little conceited fellow deliver 
sentences out of a pulpit, I recollected what he had said of 
M. Waldman, whom I had never seen, as he had hitherto 
been out of town. 

Partly from curiosity, and partly from idleness, I went into 
the lecturing room, which M. Waldman entered shortly after. 
This professor was very unlike his colleague. He appeared 
about fifty years of age, but with an aspect expressive of 
the greatest benevolence; a few gray hairs covered his tem- 
ples, but those at the back of his head were nearly black. 
His person was short, but remarkably erect; and his voice 
the sweetest I had ever heard. He began his lecture by a 
recapitulation of the history of chemistry and the various im- 
provements made by different men of learning, pronouncing 
with fervour the names of the most distinguished discover- 
ers. He then took a cursory view of the present state of the 
science, and explained many of its elementary terms. After 
having made a few preparatory experiments, he concluded 
with a panegyric upon modern chemistry, the terms of which 
I shall never forget: — 

"The ancient teachers of this science," said he, "prom- 
ised impossibilities, and performed nothing. The modern 
masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be 
transmuted, and that the elixir of life is a chimera. But these 
philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in 
dirt, and their eyes to pour over the microscope or crucible, 
have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the 
recesses of nature, and shew how she works in her hiding 
places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered 
how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. 
They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they 
can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, 
and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows." 

Chapter II 39 

I departed highly pleased with the professor and his lec- 
ture, and paid him a visit the same evening. His manners 
in private were even more mild and attractive than in public; 
for there was a certain dignity in his mien during his lec- 
ture, which in his own house was replaced by the greatest 
affability and kindness. He heard with attention my little nar- 
ration concerning my studies, and smiled at the names of 
Cornelius Agrippa, and Paracelsus, but without the contempt 
that M. Krempe had exhibited. He said, that "these were 
men to whose indefatigable zeal modern philosophers were 
indebted for most of the foundations of their knowledge. They 
had left to us, as an easier task, to give new names, and 
arrange in connected classifications, the facts which they 
in a great degree had been the instruments of bringing to 
light. The labours of men of genius, however erroneously 
directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid ad- 
vantage of mankind." I listened to his statement, which was 
delivered without any presumption or affectation; and then 
added, that his lecture had removed my prejudices against 
modern chemists; and I, at the same time, requested his 
advice concerning the books I ought to procure. 

"I am happy," said M. Waldman, "to have gained a dis- 
ciple; and if your application equals your ability, I have no 
doubt of your success. Chemistry is that branch of natural 
philosophy in which the greatest improvements have been 
and may be made; it is on that account that I have made it 
my peculiar study; but at the same time I have not neglected 
the other branches of science. A man would make but a very 
sorry chemist, if he attended to that department of human 
knowledge alone. If your wish is to become really a man 
of science, and not merely a petty experimentalist, I should 
advise you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy, 
including mathematics." 

40 Chapter II 

He then took me into his laboratory, and explained to me 
the uses of his various machines; instructing me as to what 
I ought to procure, and promising me the use of his own, 
when I should have advanced far enough in the science not 
to derange their mechanism. He also gave me the list of 
books which I had requested; and I took my leave. 

Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future 


From this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry 
in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly 
my sole occupation. I read with ardour those works, so full of 
genius and discrimination, which modern inquirers have writ- 
ten on these subjects. I attended the lectures, and cultivated 
the acquaintance, of the men of science of the university; 
and I found even in M. Krempe a great deal of sound sense 
and real information, combined, it is true, with a repulsive 
physiognomy and manners, but not on that account the less 
valuable. In M. Waldman I found a true friend. His gentleness 
was never tinged by dogmatism; and his instructions were 
given with an air of frankness and good nature, that ban- 
ished every idea of pedantry. It was, perhaps, the amiable 
character of this man that inclined me more to that branch of 
natural philosophy which he professed, than an intrinsic love 
for the science itself. But this state of mind had place only in 
the first steps towards knowledge: the more fully I entered 
into the science, the more exclusively I pursued it for its own 
sake. That application, which at first had been a matter of 
duty and resolution, now became so ardent and eager, that 
the stars often disappeared in the light of morning whilst I 
was yet engaged in my laboratory. 


42 Chapter III 

As I applied so closely, it may be easily conceived that I 
improved rapidly. My ardour was indeed the astonishment 
of the students; and my proficiency that of the masters. 
Professor Krempe often asked me, with a sly smile, how 
Cornelius Agrippa went on? whilst M. Waldman expressed 
the most heart-felt exultation in my progress. Two years 
passed in this manner, during which I paid no visit to Geneva, 
but was engaged, heart and soul, in the pursuit of some 
discoveries, which I hoped to make. None but those who 
have experienced them can conceive of the enticements 
of science. In other studies you go as far as others have 
gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in 
a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and 
wonder. A mind of moderate capacity, which closely pursues 
one study, must infallibly arrive at great proficiency in that 
study; and I, who continually sought the attainment of one 
object of pursuit, and was solely wrapt up in this, improved so 
rapidly, that, at the end of two years, I made some discoveries 
in the improvement of some chemical instruments, which 
procured me great esteem and admiration at the university. 
When I had arrived at this point, and had become as well 
acquainted with the theory and practice of natural philosophy 
as depended on the lessons of any of the professors at 
Ingolstadt, my residence there being no longer conducive to 
my improvements, I thought of returning to my friends and 
my native town, when an incident happened that protracted 
my stay. 

One of the phaanonema which had peculiarly attracted 
my attention was the structure of the human frame, and, 
indeed, any animal endued with life. Whence, I often asked 
myself, did the principle of life proceed? It was a bold ques- 
tion, and one which has ever been considered as a mystery; 
yet with how many things are we upon the brink of becoming 

Chapter III 43 

acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain 
our inquiries. I revolved these circumstances in my mind, 
and determined thenceforth to apply myself more particu- 
larly to those branches of natural philosophy which relate 
to physiology. Unless I had been animated by an almost 
supernatural enthusiasm, my application to this study would 
have been irksome, and almost intolerable. To examine the 
causes of life, we must first have recourse to death. I became 
acquainted with the science of anatomy: but this was not 
sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corrup- 
tion of the human body. In my education my father had taken 
the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed 
with no supernatural horrors. I do not ever remember to 
have trembled at a tale of superstition, or to have feared the 
apparition of a spirit. Darkness had no effect upon my fancy; 
and a church-yard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies 
deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and 
strength, had become food for the worm. Now I was led to 
examine the cause and progress of this decay, and forced 
to spend days and nights in vaults and charnel houses. My 
attention was fixed upon every object the most insupportable 
to the delicacy of the human feelings. I saw how the fine form 
of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of 
death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the 
worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain. I paused, 
examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation, as 
exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, 
until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in 
upon me — a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, 
that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect 
which it illustrated, I was surprised that among so many 
men of genius, who had directed their inquiries towards the 
same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover 

44 Chapter III 

so astonishing a secret. 

Remember, I am not recording the vision of a madman. 
The sun does not more certainly shine in the heavens, than 
that which I now affirm is true. Some miracle might have 
produced it, yet the stages of the discovery were distinct 
and probable. After days and nights of incredible labour and 
fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation 
and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing 
animation upon lifeless matter. 

The astonishment which I had at first experienced on this 
discovery soon gave place to delight and rapture. After so 
much time spent in painful labour, to arrive at once at the 
summit of my desires, was the most gratifying consummation 
of my toils. But this discovery was so great and overwhelm- 
ing, that all the steps by which I had been progressively led 
to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the result. What had 
been the study and desire of the wisest men since the cre- 
ation of the world, was now within my grasp. Not that, like a 
magic scene, it all opened upon me at once: the information I 
had obtained was of a nature rather to direct my endeavours 
so soon as I should point them towards the object of my 
search, than to exhibit that object already accomplished. I 
was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead, and 
found a passage to life aided only by one glimmering, and 
seemingly ineffectual light. 

I see by your eagerness, and the wonder and hope which 
your eyes express, my friend, that you expect to be informed 
of the secret with which I am acquainted; that cannot be: 
listen patiently until the end of my story, and you will easily 
perceive why I am reserved upon that subject. I will not 
lead you on, unguarded and ardent as I then was, to your 
destruction and infallible misery. Learn from me, if not by 
my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the 

Chapter III 45 

acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man 
is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who 
aspires to become greater than his nature will allow. 

When I found so astonishing a power placed within my 
hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in 
which I should employ it. Although I possessed the capacity 
of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the recep- 
tion of it, with all its intricacies of fibres, muscles, and veins, 
still remained a work of inconceivable difficulty and labour. 
I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of 
a being like myself or one of simpler organization; but my 
imagination was too much exalted by my first success to 
permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as 
complex and wonderful as man. The materials at present 
within my command hardly appeared adequate to so ardu- 
ous an undertaking; but I doubted not that I should ultimately 
succeed. I prepared myself for a multitude of reverses; my 
operations might be incessantly baffled, and at last my work 
be imperfect: yet, when I considered the improvement which 
every day takes place in science and mechanics, I was en- 
couraged to hope my present attempts would at least lay 
the foundations of future success. Nor could I consider the 
magnitude and complexity of my plan as any argument of its 
impracticability. It was with these feelings that I began the 
creation of a human being. As the minuteness of the parts 
formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary 
to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature; 
that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionably 
large. After having formed this determination, and having 
spent some months in successfully collecting and arranging 
my materials, I began. 

No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore 
me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of sue- 

46 Chapter III 

cess. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I 
should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our 
dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and 
source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their 
being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child 
so completely as I should deserve their's. Pursuing these 
reflections, I thought, that if I could bestow animation upon 
lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now 
found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently 
devoted the body to corruption. 

These thoughts supported my spirits, while I pursued my 
undertaking with unremitting ardour. My cheek had grown 
pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with 
confinement. Sometimes, on the very brink of certainty, I 
failed; yet still I clung to the hope which the next day or the 
next hour might realize. One secret which I alone possessed 
was the hope to which I had dedicated myself; and the moon 
gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and 
breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding places. 
Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled 
among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the 
living animal to animate the lifeless clay? My limbs now 
tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then 
a resistless, and almost frantic impulse, urged me forward; 
I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one 
pursuit. It was indeed but a passing trance, that only made 
me feel with renewed acuteness so soon as, the unnatural 
stimulus ceasing to operate, I had returned to my old habits. 
I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with 
profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame. 
In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, 
and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and 
staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation; my eyeballs 

Chapter III 47 

were starting from their sockets in attending to the details 
of my employment. The dissecting room and the slaughter- 
house furnished many of my materials; and often did my 
human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, 
still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased, 
I brought my work near to a conclusion. 

The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, 
heart and soul, in one pursuit. It was a most beautiful sea- 
son; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest, or 
the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage: but my eyes were 
insensible to the charms of nature. And the same feelings 
which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me 
also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, 
and whom I had not seen for so long a time. I knew my 
silence disquieted them; and I well remembered the words 
of my father: "I know that while you are pleased with yourself, 
you will think of us with affection, and we shall hear regularly 
from you. You must pardon me, if I regard any interruption in 
your correspondence as a proof that your other duties are 
equally neglected." 

I knew well therefore what would be my father's feelings; 
but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment, loath- 
some in itself, but which had taken an irresistible hold of my 
imagination. I wished, as it were, to procrastinate all that 
related to my feelings of affection until the great object, which 
swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be completed. 

I then thought that my father would be unjust if he as- 
cribed my neglect to vice, or faultiness on my part; but I 
am now convinced that he was justified in conceiving that I 
should not be altogether free from blame. A human being 
in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peace- 
ful mind, and never to allow passion or a transitory desire 
to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think that the pursuit of 

48 Chapter III 

knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which 
you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, 
and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which 
no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly un- 
lawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this 
rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit 
whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic af- 
fections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have 
spared his country; America would have been discovered 
more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not 
been destroyed. 

But I forget that I am moralizing in the most interesting 
part of my tale; and your looks remind me to proceed. 

My father made no reproach in his letters; and only took 
notice of my silence by inquiring into my occupations more 
particularly than before. Winter, spring, and summer, passed 
away during my labours; but I did not watch the blossom or 
the expanding leaves — sights which before always yielded 
me supreme delight, so deeply was I engrossed in my oc- 
cupation. The leaves of that year had withered before my 
work drew near to a close; and now every day shewed me 
more plainly how well I had succeeded. But my enthusi- 
asm was checked by my anxiety, and I appeared rather like 
one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines, or any other 
unwholesome trade, than an artist occupied by his favourite 
employment. Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, 
and I became nervous to a most painful degree; a disease 
that I regretted the more because I had hitherto enjoyed most 
excellent health, and had always boasted of the firmness 
of my nerves. But I believed that exercise and amusement 
would soon drive away such symptoms; and I promised my- 
self both of these, when my creation should be complete. 

Chapter IV 

It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the 
accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost 
amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around 
me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless 
thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morn- 
ing; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my 
candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the 
half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the crea- 
ture open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated 
its limbs. 

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or 
how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and 
care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in propor- 
tion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! 
— Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work 
of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous 
black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these 
luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his wa- 
tery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun 
white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complex- 
ion, and straight black lips. 

The different accidents of life are not so changeable 
as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for 


50 Chapter IV 

nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into 
an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest 
and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded 
moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the 
dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled 
my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had 
created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time 
traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind 
to sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had 
before endured; and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, 
endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But 
it was in vain: I slept indeed, but I was disturbed by the 
wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of 
health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and 
surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss 
on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her 
features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the 
corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped 
her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds 
of the flannel. I started from my sleep with horror; a cold 
dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every 
limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of 
the moon, as it forced its way through the window-shutters, 
I beheld the wretch — the miserable monster whom I had 
created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, 
if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws 
opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a 
grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not 
hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, 
but I escaped, and rushed down stairs. I took refuge in the 
court-yard belonging to the house which I inhabited; where I 
remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down 
in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and 

Chapter IV 51 

fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of 
the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life. 

Oh! no mortal could support the horror of that counte- 
nance. A mummy again endued with animation could not 
be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while 
unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and 
joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing 
such as even Dante could not have conceived. 

I passed the night wretchedly. Sometimes my pulse 
beat so quickly and hardly, that I felt the palpitation of every 
artery; at others, I nearly sank to the ground through languor 
and extreme weakness. Mingled with this horror, I felt the 
bitterness of disappointment: dreams that had been my food 
and pleasant rest for so long a space, were now become a 
hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so 

Morning, dismal and wet, at length dawned, and discov- 
ered to my sleepless and aching eyes the church of Ingol- 
stadt, its white steeple and clock, which indicated the sixth 
hour. The porter opened the gates of the court, which had 
that night been my asylum, and I issued into the streets, pac- 
ing them with quick steps, as if I sought to avoid the wretch 
whom I feared every turning of the street would present to my 
view. I did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited, 
but felt impelled to hurry on, although wetted by the rain, 
which poured from a black and comfortless sky. 

I continued walking in this manner for some time, endeav- 
ouring, by bodily exercise, to ease the load that weighed 
upon my mind. I traversed the streets, without any clear 
conception of where I was, or what I was doing. My heart 
palpitated in the sickness of fear; and I hurried on with irreg- 
ular steps, not daring to look about me: 

52 Chapter IV 

Like one who, on a lonely road, 

Doth walk in fear and dread, 
And, having once turn'd round, walks on, 

And turns no more his head; 
Because he knows a frightful fiend 

Doth close behind him tread. 

Continuing thus, I came at length opposite to the inn at 
which the various diligences and carriages usually stopped. 
Here I paused, I knew not why; but I remained some minutes 
with my eyes fixed on a coach that was coming towards me 
from the other end of the street. As it drew nearer, I observed 
that it was the Swiss diligence: it stopped just where I was 
standing; and, on the door being opened, I perceived Henry 
Clerval, who, on seeing me, instantly sprung out. "My dear 
Frankenstein," exclaimed he, "how glad I am to see you! how 
fortunate that you should be here at the very moment of my 

Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his 
presence brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth, 
and all those scenes of home so dear to my recollection. I 
grasped his hand, and in a moment forgot my horror and 
misfortune; I felt suddenly, and for the first time during many 
months, calm and serene joy. I welcomed my friend, there- 
fore, in the most cordial manner, and we walked towards my 
college. Clerval continued talking for some time about our 
mutual friends, and his own good fortune in being permitted 
to come to Ingolstadt. "You may easily believe," said he, "how 
great was the difficulty to persuade my father that it was 
not absolutely necessary for a merchant not to understand 
any thing except book-keeping; and, indeed, I believe I left 
him incredulous to the last, for his constant answer to my 
unwearied entreaties was the same as that of the Dutch 

Chapter IV 53 

schoolmaster in the Vicar of Wakefield: 'I have ten thousand 
florins a year without Greek, I eat heartily without Greek.' But 
his affection for me at length overcame his dislike of learning, 
and he has permitted me to undertake a voyage of discovery 
to the land of knowledge." 

"It gives me the greatest delight to see you; but tell me 
how you left my father, brothers, and Elizabeth." 

"Very well, and very happy, only a little uneasy that they 
hear from you so seldom. By the bye, I mean to lecture you 
a little upon their account myself. — But, my dear Franken- 
stein," continued he, stopping short, and gazing full in my 
face, "I did not before remark how very ill you appear; so thin 
and pale; you look as if you had been watching for several 

"You have guessed right; I have lately been so deeply 
engaged in one occupation, that I have not allowed myself 
sufficient rest, as you see: but I hope, I sincerely hope, that 
all these employments are now at an end, and that I am at 
length free." 

I trembled excessively; I could not endure to think of, and 
far less to allude to the occurrences of the preceding night. I 
walked with a quick pace, and we soon arrived at my college. 
I then reflected, and the thought made me shiver, that the 
creature whom I had left in my apartment might still be there, 
alive, and walking about. I dreaded to behold this monster; 
but I feared still more that Henry should see him. Entreating 
him therefore to remain a few minutes at the bottom of the 
stairs, I darted up towards my own room. My hand was 
already on the lock of the door before I recollected myself. 
I then paused; and a cold shivering came over me. I threw 
the door forcibly open, as children are accustomed to do 
when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting for them on 
the other side; but nothing appeared. I stepped fearfully in: 

54 Chapter IV 

the apartment was empty; and my bedroom was also freed 
from its hideous guest. I could hardly believe that so great 
a good-fortune could have befallen me; but when I became 
assured that my enemy had indeed fled, I clapped my hands 
for joy and ran down to Clerval. 

We ascended into my room, and the servant presently 
brought breakfast; but I was unable to contain myself. It 
was not joy only that possessed me; I felt my flesh tingle 
with excess of sensitiveness, and my pulse beat rapidly. I 
was unable to remain for a single instant in the same place; 
I jumped over the chairs, clapped my hands, and laughed 
aloud. Clerval at first attributed my unusual spirits to joy on 
his arrival; but when he observed me more attentively, he 
saw a wildness in my eyes for which he could not account; 
and my loud, unrestrained, heartless laughter, frightened 
and astonished him. 

"My dear Victor," cried he, "what, for God's sake, is the 
matter? Do not laugh in that manner. How ill you are! What 
is the cause of all this?" 

"Do not ask me," cried I, putting my hands before my 
eyes, for I thought I saw the dreaded spectre glide into the 
room; "he can tell. — Oh, save me! save me!" I imagined 
that the monster seized me; I struggled furiously, and fell 
down in a fit. 

Poor Clerval! what must have been his feelings? A 
meeting, which he anticipated with such joy, so strangely 
turned to bitterness. But I was not the witness of his grief; 
for I was lifeless, and did not recover my senses for a long, 
long time. 

This was the commencement of a nervous fever, which 
confined me for several months. During all that time Henry 
was my only nurse. I afterwards learned that, knowing my 
father's advanced age, and unfitness for so long a journey, 

Chapter IV 55 

and how wretched my sickness would make Elizabeth, he 
spared them this grief by concealing the extent of my disorder. 
He knew that I could not have a more kind and attentive nurse 
than himself; and, firm in the hope he felt of my recovery, he 
did not doubt that, instead of doing harm, he performed the 
kindest action that he could towards them. 

But I was in reality very ill; and surely nothing but the 
unbounded and unremitting attentions of my friend could 
have restored me to life. The form of the monster on whom I 
had bestowed existence was for ever before my eyes, and I 
raved incessantly concerning him. Doubtless my words sur- 
prised Henry: he at first believed them to be the wanderings 
of my disturbed imagination; but the pertinacity with which I 
continually recurred to the same subject persuaded him that 
my disorder indeed owed its origin to some uncommon and 
terrible event. 

By very slow degrees, and with frequent relapses, that 
alarmed and grieved my friend, I recovered. I remember the 
first time I became capable of observing outward objects with 
any kind of pleasure, I perceived that the fallen leaves had 
disappeared, and that the young buds were shooting forth 
from the trees that shaded my window. It was a divine spring; 
and the season contributed greatly to my convalescence. I 
felt also sentiments of joy and affection revive in my bosom; 
my gloom disappeared, and in a short time I became as 
cheerful as before I was attacked by the fatal passion. 

"Dearest Clerval," exclaimed I, "how kind, how very good 
you are to me. This whole winter, instead of being spent in 
study, as you promised yourself, has been consumed in my 
sick room. How shall I ever repay you? I feel the greatest 
remorse for the disappointment of which I have been the 
occasion; but you will forgive me." 

"You will repay me entirely, if you do not discompose 

56 Chapter IV 

yourself, but get well as fast as you can; and since you 
appear in such good spirits, I may speak to you on one 
subject, may I not?" 

I trembled. One subject! what could it be? Could he 
allude to an object on whom I dared not even think? 

"Compose yourself," said Clerval, who observed my ch- 
ange of colour, "I will not mention it, if it agitates you; but 
your father and cousin would be very happy if they received 
a letter from you in your own hand-writing. They hardly know 
how ill you have been, and are uneasy at your long silence." 

"Is that all? my dear Henry. How could you suppose 
that my first thought would not fly towards those dear, dear 
friends whom I love, and who are so deserving of my love." 

"If this is your present temper, my friend, you will perhaps 
be glad to see a letter that has been lying here some days 
for you: it is from your cousin, I believe." 

Chapter V 

Clerval then put the following letter into my hands. 
'To V. Frankenstein. 


"I cannot describe to you the uneasiness we have all 
felt concerning your health. We cannot help imagining that 
your friend Clerval conceals the extent of your disorder: for 
it is now several months since we have seen your hand- 
writing; and all this time you have been obliged to dictate 
your letters to Henry. Surely, Victor, you must have been 
exceedingly ill; and this makes us all very wretched, as much 
so nearly as after the death of your dear mother. My uncle 
was almost persuaded that you were indeed dangerously ill, 
and could hardly be restrained from undertaking a journey to 
Ingolstadt. Clerval always writes that you are getting better; 
I eagerly hope that you will confirm this intelligence soon in 
your own hand-writing; for indeed, indeed, Victor, we are all 
very miserable on this account. Relieve us from this fear, and 
we shall be the happiest creatures in the world. Your father's 
health is now so vigorous, that he appears ten years younger 
since last winter. Ernest also is so much improved, that you 
would hardly know him: he is now nearly sixteen, and has 


58 Chapter V 

lost that sickly appearance which he had some years ago; 
he is grown quite robust and active. 

"My uncle and I conversed a long time last night about 
what profession Ernest should follow. His constant illness 
when young has deprived him of the habits of application; 
and now that he enjoys good health, he is continually in 
the open air, climbing the hills, or rowing on the lake. I 
therefore proposed that he should be a farmer; which you 
know, Cousin, is a favourite scheme of mine. A farmer's is 
a very healthy happy life; and the least hurtful, or rather the 
most beneficial profession of any. My uncle had an idea of 
his being educated as an advocate, that through his interest 
he might become a judge. But, besides that he is not at all 
fitted for such an occupation, it is certainly more creditable to 
cultivate the earth for the sustenance of man, than to be the 
confidant, and sometimes the accomplice, of his vices; which 
is the profession of a lawyer. I said, that the employments 
of a prosperous farmer, if they were not a more honourable, 
they were at least a happier species of occupation than that 
of a judge, whose misfortune it was always to meddle with 
the dark side of human nature. My uncle smiled, and said, 
that I ought to be an advocate myself, which put an end to 
the conversation on that subject. 

"And now I must tell you a little story that will please, and 
perhaps amuse you. Do you not remember Justine Moritz? 
Probably you do not; I will relate her history, therefore, in 
a few words. Madame Moritz, her mother, was a widow 
with four children, of whom Justine was the third. This girl 
had always been the favourite of her father; but, through a 
strange perversity, her mother could not endure her, and, 
after the death of M. Moritz, treated her very ill. My aunt 
observed this; and, when Justine was twelve years of age, 
prevailed on her mother to allow her to live at her house. The 

Chapter V 59 

republican institutions of our country have produced simpler 
and happier manners than those which prevail in the great 
monarchies that surround it. Hence there is less distinction 
between the several classes of its inhabitants; and the lower 
orders being neither so poor nor so despised, their manners 
are more refined and moral. A servant in Geneva does not 
mean the same thing as a servant in France and England. 
Justine, thus received in our family, learned the duties of a 
servant; a condition which, in our fortunate country, does not 
include the idea of ignorance, and a sacrifice of the dignity 
of a human being. 

"After what I have said, I dare say you well remember the 
heroine of my little tale: for Justine was a great favourite of 
your's; and I recollect you once remarked, that if you were 
in an ill humour, one glance from Justine could dissipate 
it, for the same reason that Ariosto gives concerning the 
beauty of Angelica — she looked so frank-hearted and happy. 
My aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which 
she was induced to give her an education superior to that 
which she had at first intended. This benefit was fully repaid; 
Justine was the most grateful little creature in the world: I 
do not mean that she made any professions, I never heard 
one pass her lips; but you could see by her eyes that she 
almost adored her protectress. Although her disposition was 
gay, and in many respects inconsiderate, yet she paid the 
greatest attention to every gesture of my aunt. She thought 
her the model of all excellence, and endeavoured to imitate 
her phraseology and manners, so that even now she often 
reminds me of her. 

"When my dearest aunt died, every one was too much 
occupied in their own grief to notice poor Justine, who had 
attended her during her illness with the most anxious affec- 
tion. Poor Justine was very ill; but other trials were reserved 

60 Chapter V 

for her. 

"One by one, her brothers and sister died; and her mother, 
with the exception of her neglected daughter, was left child- 
less. The conscience of the woman was troubled; she began 
to think that the deaths of her favourites was a judgment from 
heaven to chastise her partiality. She was a Roman Catholic; 
and I believe her confessor confirmed the idea which she 
had conceived. Accordingly, a few months after your depar- 
ture for Ingolstadt, Justine was called home by her repentant 
mother. Poor girl! she wept when she quitted our house: she 
was much altered since the death of my aunt; grief had given 
softness and a winning mildness to her manners, which had 
before been remarkable for vivacity. Nor was her residence 
at her mother's house of a nature to restore her gaiety. The 
poor woman was very vacillating in her repentance. She 
sometimes begged Justine to forgive her unkindness, but 
much oftener accused her of having caused the deaths of 
her brothers and sister. Perpetual fretting at length threw 
Madame Moritz into a decline, which at first increased her 
irritability, but she is now at peace for ever. She died on the 
first approach of cold weather, at the beginning of this last 
winter. Justine has returned to us; and I assure you I love 
her tenderly. She is very clever and gentle, and extremely 
pretty; as I mentioned before, her mien and her expressions 
continually remind me of my dear aunt. 

"I must say also a few words to you, my dear cousin, of 
little darling William. I wish you could see him; he is very tall 
of his age, with sweet laughing blue eyes, dark eye-lashes, 
and curling hair. When he smiles, two little dimples appear 
on each cheek, which are rosy with health. He has already 
had one or two little wives, but Louisa Biron is his favourite, 
a pretty little girl of five years of age. 

"Now, dear Victor, I dare say you wish to be indulged in 

Chapter V 61 

a little gossip concerning the good people of Geneva. The 
pretty Miss Mansfield has already received the congratula- 
tory visits on her approaching marriage with a young English- 
man, John Melbourne, Esq. Her ugly sister, Manon, married 
M. Duvillard, the rich banker, last autumn. Your favourite 
schoolfellow, Louis Manoir, has suffered several misfortunes 
since the departure of Clerval from Geneva. But he has 
already recovered his spirits, and is reported to be on the 
point of marrying a very lively pretty Frenchwoman, Madame 
Tavernier. She is a widow, and much older than Manoir; but 
she is very much admired, and a favourite with every body. 
"I have written myself into good spirits, dear cousin; yet I 
cannot conclude without again anxiously inquiring concern- 
ing your health. Dear Victor, if you are not very ill, write 

yourself, and make your father and all of us happy; or 

I cannot bear to think of the other side of the question; my 
tears already flow. Adieu, my dearest cousin." 

"Elizabeth Lavenza. 
"Geneva, March 18th, 17 — ." 

"Dear, dear Elizabeth!" I exclaimed when I had read 
her letter, "I will write instantly, and relieve them from the 
anxiety they must feel." I wrote, and this exertion greatly 
fatigued me; but my convalescence had commenced, and 
proceeded regularly. In another fortnight I was able to leave 
my chamber. 

One of my first duties on my recovery was to introduce 
Clerval to the several professors of the university. In do- 
ing this, I underwent a kind of rough usage, ill befitting the 
wounds that my mind had sustained. Ever since the fatal 
night, the end of my labours, and the beginning of my mis- 
fortunes, I had conceived a violent antipathy even to the 

62 Chapter V 

name of natural philosophy. When I was otherwise quite 
restored to health, the sight of a chemical instrument would 
renew all the agony of my nervous symptoms. Henry saw 
this, and had removed all my apparatus from my view. He 
had also changed my apartment; for he perceived that I had 
acquired a dislike for the room which had previously been my 
laboratory. But these cares of Clerval were made of no avail 
when I visited the professors. M. Waldman inflicted torture 
when he praised, with kindness and warmth, the astonishing 
progress I had made in the sciences. He soon perceived that 
I disliked the subject; but, not guessing the real cause, he 
attributed my feelings to modesty, and changed the subject 
from my improvement to the science itself, with a desire, as 
I evidently saw, of drawing me out. What could I do? He 
meant to please, and he tormented me. I felt as if he had 
placed carefully, one by one, in my view those instruments 
which were to be afterwards used in putting me to a slow 
and cruel death. I writhed under his words, yet dared not 
exhibit the pain I felt. Clerval, whose eyes and feelings were 
always quick in discerning the sensations of others, declined 
the subject, alleging, in excuse, his total ignorance; and the 
conversation took a more general turn. I thanked my friend 
from my heart, but I did not speak. I saw plainly that he 
was surprised, but he never attempted to draw my secret 
from me; and although I loved him with a mixture of affec- 
tion and reverence that knew no bounds, yet I could never 
persuade myself to confide to him that event which was so 
often present to my recollection, but which I feared the detail 
to another would only impress more deeply. 

M. Krempe was not equally docile; and in my condition 
at that time, of almost insupportable sensitiveness, his harsh 
blunt encomiums gave me even more pain than the benev- 
olent approbation of M. Waldman. "D — n the fellow!" cried 

Chapter V 63 

he; "why, M. Clerval, I assure you he has outstript us all. Aye, 
stare if you please; but it is nevertheless true. A youngster 
who, but a few years ago, believed Cornelius Agrippa as 
firmly as the gospel, has now set himself at the head of the 
university; and if he is not soon pulled down, we shall all be 
out of countenance. — Aye, aye," continued he, observing 
my face expressive of suffering, "M. Frankenstein is modest; 
an excellent quality in a young man. Young men should be 
diffident of themselves, you know, M. Clerval; I was myself 
when young: but that wears out in a very short time." 

M. Krempe had now commenced an eulogy on himself, 
which happily turned the conversation from a subject that 
was so annoying to me. 

Clerval was no natural philosopher. His imagination was 
too vivid for the minutiae of science. Languages were his 
principal study; and he sought, by acquiring their elements, 
to open a field for self-instruction on his return to Geneva. 
Persian, Arabic, and Hebrew, gained his attention, after he 
had made himself perfectly master of Greek and Latin. For 
my own part, idleness had ever been irksome to me; and 
now that I wished to fly from reflection, and hated my former 
studies, I felt great relief in being the fellow-pupil with my 
friend, and found not only instruction but consolation in the 
works of the orientalists. Their melancholy is soothing, and 
their joy elevating to a degree I never experienced in study- 
ing the authors of any other country. When you read their 
writings, life appears to consist in a warm sun and garden of 
roses, — in the smiles and frowns of a fair enemy, and the 
fire that consumes your own heart. How different from the 
manly and heroical poetry of Greece and Rome. 

Summer passed away in these occupations, and my re- 
turn to Geneva was fixed for the latter end of autumn; but 
being delayed by several accidents, winter and snow arrived, 

64 Chapter V 

the roads were deemed impassable, and my journey was 
retarded until the ensuing spring. I felt this delay very bitterly; 
for I longed to see my native town, and my beloved friends. 
My return had only been delayed so long from an unwill- 
ingness to leave Clerval in a strange place, before he had 
become acquainted with any of its inhabitants. The winter, 
however, was spent cheerfully; and although the spring was 
uncommonly late, when it came, its beauty compensated for 
its dilatoriness. 

The month of May had already commenced, and I ex- 
pected the letter daily which was to fix the date of my depar- 
ture, when Henry proposed a pedestrian tour in the environs 
of Ingolstadt that I might bid a personal farewell to the coun- 
try I had so long inhabited. I acceded with pleasure to this 
proposition: I was fond of exercise, and Clerval had always 
been my favourite companion in the rambles of this nature 
that I had taken among the scenes of my native country. 

We passed a fortnight in these perambulations: my health 
and spirits had long been restored, and they gained addi- 
tional strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the nat- 
ural incidents of our progress, and the conversation of my 
friend. Study had before secluded me from the intercourse of 
my fellow-creatures, and rendered me unsocial; but Clerval 
called forth the better feelings of my heart; he again taught 
me to love the aspect of nature, and the cheerful faces of 
children. Excellent friend! how sincerely did you love me, 
and endeavour to elevate my mind, until it was on a level with 
your own. A selfish pursuit had cramped and narrowed me, 
until your gentleness and affection warmed and opened my 
senses; I became the same happy creature who, a few years 
ago, loving and beloved by all, had no sorrow or care. When 
happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me 
the most delightful sensations. A serene sky and verdant 

Chapter V 65 

fields filled me with ecstacy. The present season was indeed 
divine; the flowers of spring bloomed in the hedges, while 
those of summer were already in bud: I was undisturbed by 
thoughts which during the preceding year had pressed upon 
me, notwithstanding my endeavours to throw them off, with 
an invincible burden. 

Henry rejoiced in my gaiety, and sincerely sympathized 
in my feelings: he exerted himself to amuse me, while he 
expressed the sensations that filled his soul. The resources 
of his mind on this occasion were truly astonishing: his con- 
versation was full of imagination; and very often, in imitation 
of the Persian and Arabic writers, he invented tales of won- 
derful fancy and passion. At other times he repeated my 
favourite poems, or drew me out into arguments, which he 
supported with great ingenuity. 

We returned to our college on a Sunday afternoon: the 
peasants were dancing, and every one we met appeared 
gay and happy. My own spirits were high, and I bounded 
along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity. 

66 Chapter V 

Chapter VI 

On my return, I found the following letter from my father: 
'To V. Frankenstein. 


"You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix 
the date of your return to us; and I was at first tempted to 
write only a few lines, merely mentioning the day on which I 
should expect you. But that would be a cruel kindness, and I 
dare not do it. What would be your surprise, my son, when 
you expected a happy and gay welcome, to behold, on the 
contrary, tears and wretchedness? And how, Victor, can I 
relate our misfortune? Absence cannot have rendered you 
callous to our joys and griefs; and how shall I inflict pain on 
an absent child? I wish to prepare you for the woeful news, 
but I know it is impossible; even now your eye skims over 
the page, to seek the words which are to convey to you the 
horrible tidings. 

"William is dead! — that sweet child, whose smiles de- 
lighted and warmed my heart, who was so gentle, yet so 
gay! Victor, he is murdered! 

"I will not attempt to console you; but will simply relate 
the circumstances of the transaction. 


68 Chapter VI 

"Last Thursday (May 7th) I, my niece, and your two broth- 
ers, went to walk in Plainpalais. The evening was warm and 
serene, and we prolonged our walk farther than usual. It was 
already dusk before we thought of returning; and then we 
discovered that William and Ernest, who had gone on before, 
were not to be found. We accordingly rested on a seat until 
they should return. Presently Ernest came, and inquired if 
we had seen his brother: he said, that they had been playing 
together, that William had run away to hide himself, and that 
he vainly sought for him, and afterwards waited for him a 
long time, but that he did not return. 

"This account rather alarmed us, and we continued to 
search for him until night fell, when Elizabeth conjectured 
that he might have returned to the house. He was not there. 
We returned again, with torches; for I could not rest, when I 
thought that my sweet boy had lost himself, and was exposed 
to all the damps and dews of night: Elizabeth also suffered 
extreme anguish. About five in the morning I discovered my 
lovely boy, whom the night before I had seen blooming and 
active in health, stretched on the grass livid and motionless: 
the print of the murderer's finger was on his neck. 

"He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible 
in my countenance betrayed the secret to Elizabeth. She 
was very earnest to see the corpse. At first I attempted to 
prevent her; but she persisted, and entering the room where 
it lay, hastily examined the neck of the victim, and clasping 
her hands exclaimed, 'O God! I have murdered my darling 

"She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty. 
When she again lived, it was only to weep and sigh. She 
told me, that that same evening William had teazed her to 
let him wear a very valuable miniature that she possessed 
of your mother. This picture is gone, and was doubtless 

Chapter VI 69 

the temptation which urged the murderer to the deed. We 
have no trace of him at present, although our exertions to 
discover him are unremitted; but they will not restore my 
beloved William. 

"Come, dearest Victor; you alone can console Elizabeth. 
She weeps continually, and accuses herself unjustly as the 
cause of his death; her words pierce my heart. We are all 
unhappy; but will not that be an additional motive for you, my 
son, to return and be our comforter? Your dear mother! Alas, 
Victor! I now say, Thank God she did not live to witness the 
cruel, miserable death of her youngest darling! 

"Come, Victor; not brooding thoughts of vengeance ag- 
ainst the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness, 
that will heal, instead of festering the wounds of our minds. 
Enter the house of mourning, my friend, but with kindness 
and affection for those who love you, and not with hatred for 
your enemies. 

"Your affectionate and afflicted father, 

"Alphonse Frankenstein. 
"Geneva, May 12th, 17—." 

Clerval, who had watched my countenance as I read this 
letter, was surprised to observe the despair that succeeded 
to the joy I at first expressed on receiving news from my 
friends. I threw the letter on the table, and covered my face 
with my hands. 

"My dear Frankenstein," exclaimed Henry, when he per- 
ceived me weep with bitterness, "are you always to be un- 
happy? My dear friend, what has happened?" 

I motioned to him to take up the letter, while I walked up 
and down the room in the extremest agitation. Tears also 
gushed from the eyes of Clerval, as he read the account of 
my misfortune. 

70 Chapter VI 

"I can offer you no consolation, my friend," said he; "your 
disaster is irreparable. What do you intend to do?" 

"To go instantly to Geneva: come with me, Henry, to order 
the horses." 

During our walk, Clerval endeavoured to raise my spirits. 
He did not do this by common topics of consolation, but by 
exhibiting the truest sympathy. "Poor William!" said he, "that 
dear child; he now sleeps with his angel mother. His friends 
mourn and weep, but he is at rest: he does not now feel 
the murderer's grasp; a sod covers his gentle form, and he 
knows no pain. He can no longer be a fit subject for pity; the 
survivors are the greatest sufferers, and for them time is the 
only consolation. Those maxims of the Stoics, that death 
was no evil, and that the mind of man ought to be superior 
to despair on the eternal absence of a beloved object, ought 
not to be urged. Even Cato wept over the dead body of his 

Clerval spoke thus as we hurried through the streets; the 
words impressed themselves on my mind, and I remembered 
them afterwards in solitude. But now, as soon as the horses 
arrived, I hurried into a cabriole, and bade farewell to my 

My journey was very melancholy. At first I wished to hurry 
on, for I longed to console and sympathize with my loved 
and sorrowing friends; but when I drew near my native town, 
I slackened my progress. I could hardly sustain the multitude 
of feelings that crowded into my mind. I passed through 
scenes familiar to my youth, but which I had not seen for 
nearly six years. How altered every thing might be during 
that time? One sudden and desolating change had taken 
place; but a thousand little circumstances might have by 
degrees worked other alterations which, although they were 
done more tranquilly, might not be the less decisive. Fear 

Chapter VI 71 

overcame me; I dared not advance, dreading a thousand 
nameless evils that made me tremble, although I was unable 
to define them. 

I remained two days at Lausanne, in this painful state of 
mind. I contemplated the lake: the waters were placid; all 
around was calm, and the snowy mountains, "the palaces 
of nature," were not changed. By degrees the calm and 
heavenly scene restored me, and I continued my journey 
towards Geneva. 

The road ran by the side of the lake, which became 
narrower as I approached my native town. I discovered more 
distinctly the black sides of Jura, and the bright summit of 
Mont Blanc; I wept like a child: "Dear mountains! my own 
beautiful lake! how do you welcome your wanderer? Your 
summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is 
this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?" 

I fear, my friend, that I shall render myself tedious by 
dwelling on these preliminary circumstances; but they were 
days of comparative happiness, and I think of them with 
pleasure. My country, my beloved country! who but a native 
can tell the delight I took in again beholding thy streams, thy 
mountains, and, more than all, thy lovely lake. 

Yet, as I drew nearer home, grief and fear again over- 
came me. Night also closed around; and when I could hardly 
see the dark mountains, I felt still more gloomily. The pic- 
ture appeared a vast and dim scene of evil, and I foresaw 
obscurely that I was destined to become the most wretched 
of human beings. Alas! I prophesied truly, and failed only 
in one single circumstance, that in all the misery I imagined 
and dreaded, I did not conceive the hundredth part of the 
anguish I was destined to endure. 

It was completely dark when I arrived in the environs 
of Geneva; the gates of the town were already shut; and 

72 Chapter VI 

I was obliged to pass the night at Secheron, a village half 
a league to the east of the city. The sky was serene; and, 
as I was unable to rest, I resolved to visit the spot where 
my poor William had been murdered. As I could not pass 
through the town, I was obliged to cross the lake in a boat 
to arrive at Plainpalais. During this short voyage I saw the 
lightnings playing on the summit of Mont Blanc in the most 
beautiful figures. The storm appeared to approach rapidly; 
and, on landing, I ascended a low hill, that I might observe 
its progress. It advanced; the heavens were clouded, and I 
soon felt the rain coming slowly in large drops, but its violence 
quickly increased. 

I quitted my seat, and walked on, although the darkness 
and storm increased every minute, and the thunder burst 
with a terrific crash over my head. It was echoed from Saleve, 
the Juras, and the Alps of Savoy; vivid flashes of lightning 
dazzled my eyes, illuminating the lake, making it appear like 
a vast sheet of fire; then for an instant every thing seemed 
of a pitchy darkness, until the eye recovered itself from the 
preceding flash. The storm, as is often the case in Switzer- 
land, appeared at once in various parts of the heavens. The 
most violent storm hung exactly north of the town, over that 
part of the lake which lies between the promontory of Belrive 
and the village of Copet. Another storm enlightened Jura 
with faint flashes; and another darkened and sometimes 
disclosed the Mole, a peaked mountain to the east of the 

While I watched the storm, so beautiful yet terrific, I wan- 
dered on with a hasty step. This noble war in the sky ele- 
vated my spirits; I clasped my hands, and exclaimed aloud, 
"William, dear angel! this is thy funeral, this thy dirge!" As 
I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which 
stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed, 

Chapter VI 73 

gazing intently: I could not be mistaken. A flash of lightning 
illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to 
me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more 
hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that 
it was the wretch, the filthy daemon to whom I had given 
life. What did he there? Could he be (I shuddered at the 
conception) the murderer of my brother? No sooner did that 
idea cross my imagination, than I became convinced of its 
truth; my teeth chattered, and I was forced to lean against a 
tree for support. The figure passed me quickly, and I lost it in 
the gloom. Nothing in human shape could have destroyed 
that fair child. He was the murderer! I could not doubt it. The 
mere presence of the idea was an irresistible proof of the 
fact. I thought of pursuing the devil; but it would have been in 
vain, for another flash discovered him to me hanging among 
the rocks of the nearly perpendicular ascent of Mont Saleve, 
a hill that bounds Plainpalais on the south. He soon reached 
the summit, and disappeared. 

I remained motionless. The thunder ceased; but the rain 
still continued, and the scene was enveloped in an impene- 
trable darkness. I revolved in my mind the events which I had 
until now sought to forget: the whole train of my progress 
towards the creation; the appearance of the work of my own 
hands alive at my bed side; its departure. Two years had 
now nearly elapsed since the night on which he first received 
life; and was this his first crime? Alas! I had turned loose into 
the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage 
and misery; had he not murdered my brother? 

No one can conceive the anguish I suffered during the 
remainder of the night, which I spent, cold and wet, in the 
open air. But I did not feel the inconvenience of the weather; 
my imagination was busy in scenes of evil and despair. I 
considered the being whom I had cast among mankind, and 

74 Chapter VI 

endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror, 
such as the deed which he had now done, nearly in the light 
of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave, 
and forced to destroy all that was dear to me. 

Day dawned; and I directed my steps towards the town. 
The gates were open; and I hastened to my father's house. 
My first thought was to discover what I knew of the murderer, 
and cause instant pursuit to be made. But I paused when 
I reflected on the story that I had to tell. A being whom I 
myself had formed, and endued with life, had met me at 
midnight among the precipices of an inaccessible mountain. 
I remembered also the nervous fever with which I had been 
seized just at the time that I dated my creation, and which 
would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise so utterly 
improbable. I well knew that if any other had communicated 
such a relation to me, I should have looked upon it as the 
ravings of insanity. Besides, the strange nature of the animal 
would elude all pursuit, even if I were so far credited as to 
persuade my relatives to commence it. Besides, of what 
use would be pursuit? Who could arrest a creature capable 
of scaling the overhanging sides of Mont Saleve? These 
reflections determined me, and I resolved to remain silent. 

It was about five in the morning when I entered my father's 
house. I told the servants not to disturb the family, and went 
into the library to attend their usual hour of rising. 

Six years had elapsed, passed as a dream but for one 
indelible trace, and I stood in the same place where I had 
last embraced my father before my departure for Ingolstadt. 
Beloved and respectable parent! He still remained to me. 
I gazed on the picture of my mother, which stood over the 
mantle-piece. It was an historical subject, painted at my 
father's desire, and represented Caroline Beaufort in an 
agony of despair, kneeling by the coffin of her dead father. 

Chapter VI 75 

Her garb was rustic, and her cheek pale; but there was an 
air of dignity and beauty, that hardly permitted the sentiment 
of pity. Below this picture was a miniature of William; and my 
tears flowed when I looked upon it. While I was thus engaged, 
Ernest entered: he had heard me arrive, and hastened to 
welcome me. He expressed a sorrowful delight to see me: 
"Welcome, my dearest Victor," said he. "Ah! I wish you had 
come three months ago, and then you would have found us 
all joyous and delighted. But we are now unhappy; and, I 
am afraid, tears instead of smiles will be your welcome. Our 
father looks so sorrowful: this dreadful event seems to have 
revived in his mind his grief on the death of Mamma. Poor 
Elizabeth also is quite inconsolable." Ernest began to weep 
as he said these words. 

"Do not," said I, "welcome me thus; try to be more calm, 
that I may not be absolutely miserable the moment I enter 
my father's house after so long an absence. But, tell me, 
how does my father support his misfortunes? and how is my 
poor Elizabeth?" 

"She indeed requires consolation; she accused herself 
of having caused the death of my brother, and that made her 
very wretched. But since the murderer has been discovered 

"The murderer discovered! Good God! how can that 
be? who could attempt to pursue him? It is impossible; 
one might as well try to overtake the winds, or confine a 
mountain-stream with a straw." 

"I do not know what you mean; but we were all very 
unhappy when she was discovered. No one would believe 
it at first; and even now Elizabeth will not be convinced, 
notwithstanding all the evidence. Indeed, who would credit 
that Justine Moritz, who was so amiable, and fond of all the 
family, could all at once become so extremely wicked?" 

76 Chapter VI 

"Justine Moritz! Poor, poor girl, is she the accused? But 
it is wrongfully; every one knows that; no one believes it, 
surely, Ernest?" 

"No one did at first; but several circumstances came out, 
that have almost forced conviction upon us: and her own 
behaviour has been so confused, as to add to the evidence 
of facts a weight that, I fear, leaves no hope for doubt. But 
she will be tried to-day, and you will then hear all." 

He related that, the morning on which the murder of poor 
William had been discovered, Justine had been taken ill, 
and confined to her bed; and, after several days, one of the 
servants, happening to examine the apparel she had worn 
on the night of the murder, had discovered in her pocket 
the picture of my mother, which had been judged to be the 
temptation of the murderer. The servant instantly shewed it 
to one of the others, who, without saying a word to any of 
the family, went to a magistrate; and, upon their deposition, 
Justine was apprehended. On being charged with the fact, 
the poor girl confirmed the suspicion in a great measure by 
her extreme confusion of manner. 

This was a strange tale, but it did not shake my faith; and 
I replied earnestly, "You are all mistaken; I know the murderer. 
Justine, poor, good Justine, is innocent." 

At that instant my father entered. I saw unhappiness 
deeply impressed on his countenance, but he endeavoured 
to welcome me cheerfully; and, after we had exchanged our 
mournful greeting, would have introduced some other topic 
than that of our disaster, had not Ernest exclaimed, "Good 
God, Papa! Victor says that he knows who was the murderer 
of poor William." 

"We do also, unfortunately," replied my father; "for indeed 
I had rather have been for ever ignorant than have discovered 
so much depravity and ingratitude in one I valued so highly." 

Chapter VI 77 

"My dear father, you are mistaken; Justine is innocent." 

"If she is, God forbid that she should suffer as guilty. She 
is to be tried to-day, and I hope, I sincerely hope, that she 
will be acquitted." 

This speech calmed me. I was firmly convinced in my 
own mind that Justine, and indeed every human being, was 
guiltless of this murder. I had no fear, therefore, that any 
circumstantial evidence could be brought forward strong 
enough to convict her; and, in this assurance, I calmed 
myself, expecting the trial with eagerness, but without prog- 
nosticating an evil result. 

We were soon joined by Elizabeth. Time had made great 
alterations in her form since I had last beheld her. Six years 
before she had been a pretty, good-humoured girl, whom 
every one loved and caressed. She was now a woman 
in stature and expression of countenance, which was un- 
commonly lovely. An open and capacious forehead gave 
indications of a good understanding, joined to great frank- 
ness of disposition. Her eyes were hazel, and expressive 
of mildness, now through recent affliction allied to sadness. 
Her hair was of a rich, dark auburn, her complexion fair, and 
her figure slight and graceful. She welcomed me with the 
greatest affection. "Your arrival, my dear cousin," said she, 
"fills me with hope. You perhaps will find some means to 
justify my poor guiltless Justine. Alas! who is safe, if she be 
convicted of crime? I rely on her innocence as certainly as 
I do upon my own. Our misfortune is doubly hard to us; we 
have not only lost that lovely darling boy, but this poor girl, 
whom I sincerely love, is to be torn away by even a worse 
fate. If she is condemned, I never shall know joy more. But 
she will not, I am sure she will not; and then I shall be happy 
again, even after the sad death of my little William." 

"She is innocent, my Elizabeth," said I, "and that shall be 

78 Chapter VI 

proved; fear nothing, but let your spirits be cheered by the 
assurance of her acquittal." 

"How kind you are! every one else believes in her guilt, 
and that made me wretched; for I knew that it was impossible: 
and to see every one else prejudiced in so deadly a manner, 
rendered me hopeless and despairing." She wept. 

"Sweet niece," said my father, "dry your tears. If she is, as 
you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our judges, and 
the activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of 

Chapter VII 

We passed a few sad hours, until eleven o'clock, when the 
trial was to commence. My father and the rest of the family 
being obliged to attend as witnesses, I accompanied them 
to the court. During the whole of this wretched mockery 
of justice, I suffered living torture. It was to be decided, 
whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would 
cause the death of two of my fellow-beings: one a smiling 
babe, full of innocence and joy; the other far more dreadfully 
murdered, with every aggravation of infamy that could make 
the murder memorable in horror. Justine also was a girl of 
merit, and possessed qualities which promised to render her 
life happy: now all was to be obliterated in an ignominious 
grave; and I the cause! A thousand times rather would I have 
confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed to Justine; but 
I was absent when it was committed, and such a declaration 
would have been considered as the ravings of a madman, 
and would not have exculpated her who suffered through 

The appearance of Justine was calm. She was dressed 
in mourning; and her countenance, always engaging, was 
rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beau- 
tiful. Yet she appeared confident in innocence, and did not 


80 Chapter VII 

tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands; 
for all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have 
excited, was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by 
the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have 
committed. She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was evi- 
dently constrained; and as her confusion had before been 
adduced as a proof of her guilt, she worked up her mind to 
an appearance of courage. When she entered the court, she 
threw her eyes round it, and quickly discovered where we 
were seated. A tear seemed to dim her eye when she saw 
us; but she quickly recovered herself, and a look of sorrowful 
affection seemed to attest her utter guiltlessness. 

The trial began; and after the advocate against her had 
stated the charge, several witnesses were called. Several 
strange facts combined against her, which might have stag- 
gered any one who had not such proof of her innocence as I 
had. She had been out the whole of the night on which the 
murder had been committed, and towards morning had been 
perceived by a market-woman not far from the spot where 
the body of the murdered child had been afterwards found. 
The woman asked her what she did there; but she looked 
very strangely, and only returned a confused and unintelligi- 
ble answer. She returned to the house about eight o'clock; 
and when one inquired where she had passed the night, 
she replied, that she had been looking for the child, and 
demanded earnestly, if any thing had been heard concerning 
him. When shewn the body, she fell into violent hysterics, 
and kept her bed for several days. The picture was then pro- 
duced, which the servant had found in her pocket; and when 
Elizabeth, in a faltering voice, proved that it was the same 
which, an hour before the child had been missed, she had 
placed round his neck, a murmur of horror and indignation 
filled the court. 

Chapter VII 81 

Justine was called on for her defence. As the trial had 
proceeded, her countenance had altered. Surprise, hor- 
ror, and misery, were strongly expressed. Sometimes she 
struggled with her tears; but when she was desired to plead, 
she collected her powers, and spoke in an audible although 
variable voice: — 

"God knows," she said, "how entirely I am innocent. But 
I do not pretend that my protestations should acquit me: I 
rest my innocence on a plain and simple explanation of the 
facts which have been adduced against me; and I hope the 
character I have always borne will incline my judges to a 
favourable interpretation, where any circumstance appears 
doubtful or suspicious." 

She then related that, by the permission of Elizabeth, she 
had passed the evening of the night on which the murder had 
been committed, at the house of an aunt at Chene, a village 
situated at about a league from Geneva. On her return, at 
about nine o'clock, she met a man, who asked her if she had 
seen any thing of the child who was lost. She was alarmed 
by this account, and passed several hours in looking for him, 
when the gates of Geneva were shut, and she was forced 
to remain several hours of the night in a barn belonging to a 
cottage, being unwilling to call up the inhabitants, to whom 
she was well known. Unable to rest or sleep, she quitted 
her asylum early, that she might again endeavour to find my 
brother. If she had gone near the spot where his body lay, it 
was without her knowledge. That she had been bewildered 
when questioned by the market-woman, was not surprising, 
since she had passed a sleepless night, and the fate of poor 
William was yet uncertain. Concerning the picture she could 
give no account. 

"I know," continued the unhappy victim, "how heavily and 
fatally this one circumstance weighs against me, but I have 

82 Chapter VII 

no power of explaining it; and when I have expressed my 
utter ignorance, I am only left to conjecture concerning the 
probabilities by which it might have been placed in my pocket. 
But here also I am checked. I believe that I have no enemy 
on earth, and none surely would have been so wicked as 
to destroy me wantonly. Did the murderer place it there? I 
know of no opportunity afforded him for so doing; or if I had, 
why should he have stolen the jewel, to part with it again so 

"I commit my cause to the justice of my judges, yet I see 
no room for hope. I beg permission to have a few witnesses 
examined concerning my character; and if their testimony 
shall not overweigh my supposed guilt, I must be condemned, 
although I would pledge my salvation on my innocence." 

Several witnesses were called, who had known her for 
many years, and they spoke well of her; but fear, and hatred 
of the crime of which they supposed her guilty, rendered 
them timorous, and unwilling to come forward. Elizabeth 
saw even this last resource, her excellent dispositions and 
irreproachable conduct, about to fail the accused, when, al- 
though violently agitated, she desired permission to address 
the court. 

"I am," said she, "the cousin of the unhappy child who was 
murdered, or rather his sister, for I was educated by and have 
lived with his parents ever since and even long before his 
birth. It may therefore be judged indecent in me to come for- 
ward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about 
to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I 
wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of 
her character. I am well acquainted with the accused. I have 
lived in the same house with her, at one time for five, and 
at another for nearly two years. During all that period she 
appeared to me the most amiable and benevolent of human 

Chapter VII 83 

creatures. She nursed Madame Frankenstein, my aunt, in 
her last illness with the greatest affection and care; and after- 
wards attended her own mother during a tedious illness, in a 
manner that excited the admiration of all who knew her. After 
which she again lived in my uncle's house, where she was 
beloved by all the family. She was warmly attached to the 
child who is now dead, and acted towards him like a most 
affectionate mother. For my own part, I do not hesitate to 
say, that, notwithstanding all the evidence produced against 
her, I believe and rely on her perfect innocence. She had 
no temptation for such an action: as to the bauble on which 
the chief proof rests, if she had earnestly desired it, I should 
have willingly given it to her; so much do I esteem and value 

Excellent Elizabeth! A murmur of approbation was heard; 
but it was excited by her generous interference, and not in 
favour of poor Justine, on whom the public indignation was 
turned with renewed violence, charging her with the blackest 
ingratitude. She herself wept as Elizabeth spoke, but she 
did not answer. My own agitation and anguish was extreme 
during the whole trial. I believed in her innocence; I knew 
it. Could the daemon, who had (I did not for a minute doubt) 
murdered my brother, also in his hellish sport have betrayed 
the innocent to death and ignominy. I could not sustain the 
horror of my situation; and when I perceived that the popular 
voice, and the countenances of the judges, had already 
condemned my unhappy victim, I rushed out of the court in 
agony. The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she 
was sustained by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore 
my bosom, and would not forego their hold. 

I passed a night of unmingled wretchedness. In the 
morning I went to the court; my lips and throat were parched. 
I dared not ask the fatal question; but I was known, and the 

84 Chapter VII 

officer guessed the cause of my visit. The ballots had been 
thrown; they were all black, and Justine was condemned. 

I cannot pretend to describe what I then felt. I had before 
experienced sensations of horror; and I have endeavoured to 
bestow upon them adequate expressions, but words cannot 
convey an idea of the heart-sickening despair that I then en- 
dured. The person to whom I addressed myself added, that 
Justine had already confessed her guilt. "That evidence," he 
observed, "was hardly required in so glaring a case, but I am 
glad of it; and, indeed, none of our judges like to condemn a 
criminal upon circumstantial evidence, be it ever so decisive." 

When I returned home, Elizabeth eagerly demanded the 

"My cousin," replied I, "it is decided as you may have 
expected; all judges had rather that ten innocent should 
suffer, than that one guilty should escape. But she has 

This was a dire blow to poor Elizabeth, who had relied 
with firmness upon Justine's innocence. "Alas!" said she, 
"how shall I ever again believe in human benevolence? Jus- 
tine, whom I loved and esteemed as my sister, how could 
she put on those smiles of innocence only to betray; her mild 
eyes seemed incapable of any severity or ill-humour, and yet 
she has committed a murder." 

Soon after we heard that the poor victim had expressed 
a wish to see my cousin. My father wished her not to go; 
but said, that he left it to her own judgment and feelings to 
decide. "Yes," said Elizabeth, "I will go, although she is guilty; 
and you, Victor, shall accompany me: I cannot go alone." 
The idea of this visit was torture to me, yet I could not refuse. 

We entered the gloomy prison-chamber, and beheld Jus- 
tine sitting on some straw at the further end; her hands were 
manacled, and her head rested on her knees. She rose on 

Chapter VII 85 

seeing us enter; and when we were left alone with her, she 
threw herself at the feet of Elizabeth, weeping bitterly. My 
cousin wept also. 

"Oh, Justine!" said she, "why did you rob me of my last 
consolation. I relied on your innocence; and although I was 
then very wretched, I was not so miserable as I am now." 

"And do you also believe that I am so very, very wicked? 
Do you also join with my enemies to crush me?" Her voice 
was suffocated with sobs. 

"Rise, my poor girl," said Elizabeth, "why do you kneel, if 
you are innocent? I am not one of your enemies; I believed 
you guiltless, notwithstanding every evidence, until I heard 
that you had yourself declared your guilt. That report, you 
say, is false; and be assured, dear Justine, that nothing can 
shake my confidence in you for a moment, but your own 

"I did confess; but I confessed a lie. I confessed, that I 
might obtain absolution; but now that falsehood lies heav- 
ier at my heart than all my other sins. The God of heaven 
forgive me! Ever since I was condemned, my confessor 
has besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I al- 
most began to think that I was the monster that he said I 
was. He threatened excommunication and hell fire in my 
last moments, if I continued obdurate. Dear lady, I had none 
to support me; all looked on me as a wretch doomed to 
ignominy and perdition. What could I do? In an evil hour I 
subscribed to a lie; and now only am I truly miserable." 

She paused, weeping, and then continued — "I thought 
with horror, my sweet lady, that you should believe your 
Justine, whom your blessed aunt had so highly honoured, 
and whom you loved, was a creature capable of a crime 
which none but the devil himself could have perpetrated. 
Dear William! dearest blessed child! I soon shall see you 

86 Chapter VII 

again in heaven, where we shall all be happy; and that 
consoles me, going as I am to suffer ignominy and death." 

"Oh, Justine! forgive me for having for one moment dis- 
trusted you. Why did you confess? But do not mourn, my 
dear girl; I will every where proclaim your innocence, and 
force belief. Yet you must die; you, my playfellow, my com- 
panion, my more than sister. I never can survive so horrible 
a misfortune." 

"Dear, sweet Elizabeth, do not weep. You ought to raise 
me with thoughts of a better life, and elevate me from the 
petty cares of this world of injustice and strife. Do not you, 
excellent friend, drive me to despair." 

"I will try to comfort you; but this, I fear, is an evil too deep 
and poignant to admit of consolation, for there is no hope. 
Yet heaven bless thee, my dearest Justine, with resignation, 
and a confidence elevated beyond this world. Oh! how I hate 
its shews and mockeries! when one creature is murdered, 
another is immediately deprived of life in a slow torturing 
manner; then the executioners, their hands yet reeking with 
the blood of innocence, believe that they have done a great 
deed. They call this retribution. Hateful name! When that 
word is pronounced, I know greater and more horrid punish- 
ments are going to be inflicted than the gloomiest tyrant has 
ever invented to satiate his utmost revenge. Yet this is not 
consolation for you, my Justine, unless indeed that you may 
glory in escaping from so miserable a den. Alas! I would I 
were in peace with my aunt and my lovely William, escaped 
from a world which is hateful to me, and the visages of men 
which I abhor." 

Justine smiled languidly. "This, dear lady, is despair, and 
not resignation. I must not learn the lesson that you would 
teach me. Talk of something else, something that will bring 
peace, and not increase of misery." 

Chapter VII 87 

During this conversation I had retired to a corner of the 
prison-room, where I could conceal the horrid anguish that 
possessed me. Despair! Who dared talk of that? The poor 
victim, who on the morrow was to pass the dreary boundary 
between life and death, felt not as I did, such deep and 
bitter agony. I gnashed my teeth, and ground them together, 
uttering a groan that came from my inmost soul. Justine 
started. When she saw who it was, she approached me, and 
said, "Dear Sir, you are very kind to visit me; you, I hope, do 
not believe that I am guilty." 

I could not answer. "No, Justine," said Elizabeth; "he is 
more convinced of your innocence than I was; for even when 
he heard that you had confessed, he did not credit it." 

"I truly thank him. In these last moments I feel the sheer- 
est gratitude towards those who think of me with kindness. 
How sweet is the affection of others to such a wretch as I am! 
It removes more than half my misfortune; and I feel as if I 
could die in peace, now that my innocence is acknowledged 
by you, dear lady, and your cousin." 

Thus the poor sufferer tried to comfort others and herself. 
She indeed gained the resignation she desired. But I, the 
true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, 
which allowed of no hope or consolation. Elizabeth also 
wept, and was unhappy; but her's also was the misery of 
innocence, which, like a cloud that passes over the fair moon, 
for a while hides, but cannot tarnish its brightness. Anguish 
and despair had penetrated into the core of my heart; I bore 
a hell within me, which nothing could extinguish. We staid 
several hours with Justine; and it was with great difficulty that 
Elizabeth could tear herself away. "I wish," cried she, "that I 
were to die with you; I cannot live in this world of misery." 

Justine assumed an air of cheerfulness, while she with 
difficulty repressed her bitter tears. She embraced Elizabeth, 

88 Chapter VII 

and said, in a voice of half-suppressed emotion, "Farewell, 
sweet lady, dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; 
may heaven in its bounty bless and preserve you; may this 
be the last misfortune that you will ever suffer. Live, and be 
happy, and make others so." 

As we returned, Elizabeth said, "You know not, my dear 
Victor, how much I am relieved, now that I trust in the in- 
nocence of this unfortunate girl. I never could again have 
known peace, if I had been deceived in my reliance on her. 
For the moment that I did believe her guilty, I felt an anguish 
that I could not have long sustained. Now my heart is light- 
ened. The innocent suffers; but she whom I thought amiable 
and good has not betrayed the trust I reposed in her, and I 
am consoled." 

Amiable cousin! such were your thoughts, mild and gen- 
tle as your own dear eyes and voice. But I — I was a wretch, 
and none ever conceived of the misery that I then endured. 

Volume II 


Chapter I 

Nothing is more painful to the human mind, than, after 
the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of 
events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which 
follows, and deprives the soul both of hope and fear. Justine 
died; she rested; and I was alive. The blood flowed freely in 
my veins, but a weight of despair and remorse pressed on 
my heart, which nothing could remove. Sleep fled from my 
eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had committed deeds 
of mischief beyond description horrible, and more, much 
more, (I persuaded myself) was yet behind. Yet my heart 
overflowed with kindness, and the love of virtue. I had begun 
life with benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment 
when I should put them in practice, and make myself useful 
to my fellow-beings. Now all was blasted: instead of that 
serenity of conscience, which allowed me to look back upon 
the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence to gather 
promise of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the 
sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense 
tortures, such as no language can describe. 

This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had 
entirely recovered from the first shock it had sustained. I 
shunned the face of man; all sound of joy or complacency 


92 Chapter I 

was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation — deep, 
dark, death-like solitude. 

My father observed with pain the alteration perceptible in 
my disposition and habits, and endeavoured to reason with 
me on the folly of giving way to immoderate grief. "Do you 
think, Victor," said he, "that I do not suffer also? No one could 
love a child more than I loved your brother;" (tears came into 
his eyes as he spoke); "but is it not a duty to the survivors, 
that we should refrain from augmenting their unhappiness by 
an appearance of immoderate grief? It is also a duty owed 
to yourself; for excessive sorrow prevents improvement or 
enjoyment, or even the discharge of daily usefulness, without 
which no man is fit for society." 

This advice, although good, was totally inapplicable to 
my case; I should have been the first to hide my grief, and 
console my friends, if remorse had not mingled its bitterness 
with my other sensations. Now I could only answer my father 
with a look of despair, and endeavour to hide myself from his 

About this time we retired to our house at Belrive. This 
change was particularly agreeable to me. The shutting of 
the gates regularly at ten o'clock, and the impossibility of 
remaining on the lake after that hour, had rendered our 
residence within the walls of Geneva very irksome to me. I 
was now free. Often, after the rest of the family had retired 
for the night, I took the boat, and passed many hours upon 
the water. Sometimes, with my sails set, I was carried by 
the wind; and sometimes, after rowing into the middle of 
the lake, I left the boat to pursue its own course, and gave 
way to my own miserable reflections. I was often tempted, 
when all was at peace around me, and I the only unquiet 
thing that wandered restless in a scene so beautiful and 
heavenly, if I except some bat, or the frogs, whose harsh and 

Chapter I 93 

interrupted croaking was heard only when I approached the 
shore — often, I say, I was tempted to plunge into the silent 
lake, that the waters might close over me and my calamities 
for ever. But I was restrained, when I thought of the heroic 
and suffering Elizabeth, whom I tenderly loved, and whose 
existence was bound up in mine. I thought also of my father, 
and surviving brother: should I by my base desertion leave 
them exposed and unprotected to the malice of the fiend 
whom I had let loose among them? 

At these moments I wept bitterly, and wished that peace 
would revisit my mind only that I might afford them con- 
solation and happiness. But that could not be. Remorse 
extinguished every hope. I had been the author of unalter- 
able evils; and I lived in daily fear, lest the monster whom 
I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness. I 
had an obscure feeling that all was not over, and that he 
would still commit some signal crime, which by its enormity 
should almost efface the recollection of the past. There was 
always scope for fear, so long as any thing I loved remained 
behind. My abhorrence of this fiend cannot be conceived. 
When I thought of him, I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became 
inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that life which 
I had so thoughtlessly bestowed. When I reflected on his 
crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst all bounds 
of moderation. I would have made a pilgrimage to the highest 
peak of the Andes, could I, when there, have precipitated 
him to their base. I wished to see him again, that I might 
wreak the utmost extent of anger on his head, and avenge 
the deaths of William and Justine. 

Our house was the house of mourning. My father's health 
was deeply shaken by the horror of the recent events. Eliza- 
beth was sad and desponding; she no longer took delight in 
her ordinary occupations; all pleasure seemed to her sacri- 

94 Chapter I 

lege toward the dead; eternal woe and tears she then thought 
was the just tribute she should pay to innocence so blasted 
and destroyed. She was no longer that happy creature, who 
in earlier youth wandered with me on the banks of the lake, 
and talked with ecstacy of our future prospects. She had 
become grave, and often conversed of the inconstancy of 
fortune, and the instability of human life. 

"When I reflect, my dear cousin," said she, "on the miser- 
able death of Justine Moritz, I no longer see the world and 
its works as they before appeared to me. Before, I looked 
upon the accounts of vice and injustice, that I read in books 
or heard from others, as tales of ancient days, or imaginary 
evils; at least they were remote, and more familiar to reason 
than to the imagination; but now misery has come home, 
and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other's 
blood. Yet I am certainly unjust. Every body believed that 
poor girl to be guilty; and if she could have committed the 
crime for which she suffered, assuredly she would have been 
the most depraved of human creatures. For the sake of a 
few jewels, to have murdered the son of her benefactor and 
friend, a child whom she had nursed from its birth, and ap- 
peared to love as if it had been her own! I could not consent 
to the death of any human being; but certainly I should have 
thought such a creature unfit to remain in the society of men. 
Yet she was innocent. I know, I feel she was innocent; you 
are of the same opinion, and that confirms me. Alas! Victor, 
when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure 
themselves of certain happiness? I feel as if I were walking 
on the edge of a precipice, towards which thousands are 
crowding, and endeavouring to plunge me into the abyss. 
William and Justine were assassinated, and the murderer es- 
capes; he walks about the world free, and perhaps respected. 
But even if I were condemned to suffer on the scaffold for the 

Chapter I 95 

same crimes, I would not change places with such a wretch." 
I listened to this discourse with the extremest agony. I, not 
in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer. Elizabeth read 
my anguish in my countenance, and kindly taking my hand 
said, "My dearest cousin, you must calm yourself. These 
events have affected me, God knows how deeply; but I am 
not so wretched as you are. There is an expression of 
despair, and sometimes of revenge, in your countenance, 
that makes me tremble. Be calm, my dear Victor; I would 
sacrifice my life to your peace. We surely shall be happy: 
quiet in our native country, and not mingling in the world, 
what can disturb our tranquillity?" 

She shed tears as she said this, distrusting the very so- 
lace that she gave; but at the same time she smiled, that she 
might chase away the fiend that lurked in my heart. My fa- 
ther, who saw in the unhappiness that was painted in my face 
only an exaggeration of that sorrow which I might naturally 
feel, thought that an amusement suited to my taste would 
be the best means of restoring to me my wonted serenity. 
It was from this cause that he had removed to the country; 
and, induced by the same motive, he now proposed that we 
should all make an excursion to the valley of Chamounix. I 
had been there before, but Elizabeth and Ernest never had; 
and both had often expressed an earnest desire to see the 
scenery of this place, which had been described to them as 
so wonderful and sublime. Accordingly we departed from 
Geneva on this tour about the middle of the month of August, 
nearly two months after the death of Justine. 

The weather was uncommonly fine; and if mine had been 
a sorrow to be chased away by any fleeting circumstance, 
this excursion would certainly have had the effect intended by 
my father. As it was, I was somewhat interested in the scene; 
it sometimes lulled, although it could not extinguish my grief. 

96 Chapter I 

During the first day we travelled in a carriage. In the morning 
we had seen the mountains at a distance, towards which we 
gradually advanced. We perceived that the valley through 
which we wound, and which was formed by the river Arve, 
whose course we followed, closed in upon us by degrees; 
and when the sun had set, we beheld immense mountains 
and precipices overhanging us on every side, and heard the 
sound of the river raging among rocks, and the dashing of 
water-falls around. 

The next day we pursued our journey upon mules; and 
as we ascended still higher, the valley assumed a more mag- 
nificent and astonishing character. Ruined castles hanging 
on the precipices of piny mountains; the impetuous Arve, 
and cottages every here and there peeping forth from among 
the trees, formed a scene of singular beauty. But it was 
augmented and rendered sublime by the mighty Alps, whose 
white and shining pyramids and domes towered above all, as 
belonging to another earth, the habitations of another race 
of beings. 

We passed the bridge of Pelissier, where the ravine, 
which the river forms, opened before us, and we began 
to ascend the mountain that overhangs it. Soon after we 
entered the valley of Chamounix. This valley is more won- 
derful and sublime, but not so beautiful and picturesque as 
that of Servox, through which we had just passed. The high 
and snowy mountains were its immediate boundaries; but 
we saw no more ruined castles and fertile fields. Immense 
glaciers approached the road; we heard the rumbling thun- 
der of the falling avalanche, and marked the smoke of its 
passage. Mont Blanc, the supreme and magnificent Mont 
Blanc, raised itself from the surrounding aiguilles, and its 
tremendous dome overlooked the valley. 

During this journey, I sometimes joined Elizabeth, and 

Chapter I 97 

exerted myself to point out to her the various beauties of 
the scene. I often suffered my mule to lag behind, and 
indulged in the misery of reflection. At other times I spurred 
on the animal before my companions, that I might forget 
them, the world, and, more than all, myself. When at a 
distance, I alighted, and threw myself on the grass, weighed 
down by horror and despair. At eight in the evening I arrived 
at Chamounix. My father and Elizabeth were very much 
fatigued; Ernest, who accompanied us, was delighted, and 
in high spirits: the only circumstance that detracted from 
his pleasure was the south wind, and the rain it seemed to 
promise for the next day. 

We retired early to our apartments, but not to sleep; 
at least I did not. I remained many hours at the window, 
watching the pallid lightning that played above Mont Blanc, 
and listening to the rushing of the Arve, which ran below my 

98 Chapter I 

Chapter II 

The next day, contrary to the prognostications of our guides, 
was fine, although clouded. We visited the source of the 
Arveiron, and rode about the valley until evening. These 
sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest 
consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated 
me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not 
remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillized it. In some 
degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over 
which it had brooded for the last month. I returned in the 
evening, fatigued, but less unhappy, and conversed with my 
family with more cheerfulness than had been my custom for 
some time. My father was pleased, and Elizabeth overjoyed. 
"My dear cousin," said she, "you see what happiness you 
diffuse when you are happy; do not relapse again!" 

The following morning the rain poured down in torrents, 
and thick mists hid the summits of the mountains. I rose 
early, but felt unusually melancholy. The rain depressed me; 
my old feelings recurred, and I was miserable. I knew how 
disappointed my father would be at this sudden change, and 
I wished to avoid him until I had recovered myself so far as to 
be enabled to conceal those feelings that overpowered me. 
I knew that they would remain that day at the inn; and as I 


1 00 Chapter II 

had ever inured myself to rain, moisture, and cold, I resolved 
to go alone to the summit of Montanvert. I remembered 
the effect that the view of the tremendous and ever-moving 
glacier had produced upon my mind when I first saw it. It 
had then filled me with a sublime ecstacy that gave wings 
to the soul, and allowed it to soar from the obscure world to 
light and joy. The sight of the awful and majestic in nature 
had indeed always the effect of solemnizing my mind, and 
causing me to forget the passing cares of life. I determined 
to go alone, for I was well acquainted with the path, and the 
presence of another would destroy the solitary grandeur of 
the scene. 

The ascent is precipitous, but the path is cut into contin- 
ual and short windings, which enable you to surmount the 
perpendicularity of the mountain. It is a scene terrifically des- 
olate. In a thousand spots the traces of the winter avalanche 
may be perceived, where trees lie broken and strewed on 
the ground; some entirely destroyed, others bent, leaning 
upon the jutting rocks of the mountain, or transversely upon 
other trees. The path, as you ascend higher, is intersected 
by ravines of snow, down which stones continually roll from 
above; one of them is particularly dangerous, as the slightest 
sound, such as even speaking in a loud voice, produces 
a concussion of air sufficient to draw destruction upon the 
head of the speaker. The pines are not tall or luxuriant, but 
they are sombre, and add an air of severity to the scene. I 
looked on the valley beneath; vast mists were rising from 
the rivers which ran through it, and curling in thick wreaths 
around the opposite mountains, whose summits were hid in 
the uniform clouds, while rain poured from the dark sky, and 
added to the melancholy impression I received from the ob- 
jects around me. Alas! why does man boast of sensibilities 
superior to those apparent in the brute; it only renders them 

Chapter II 101 

more necessary beings. If our impulses were confined to 
hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly free; but now 
we are moved by every wind that blows, and a chance word 
or scene that that word may convey to us. 

We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep. 

We rise; one wand'ring thought pollutes the day. 
We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh, or weep, 

Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away; 
It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow, 

The path of its departure still is free. 
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; 

Nought may endure but mutability! 

It was nearly noon when I arrived at the top of the ascent. 
For some time I sat upon the rock that overlooks the sea of 
ice. A mist covered both that and the surrounding mountains. 
Presently a breeze dissipated the cloud, and I descended 
upon the glacier. The surface is very uneven, rising like the 
waves of a troubled sea, descending low, and interspersed by 
rifts that sink deep. The field of ice is almost a league in width, 
but I spent nearly two hours in crossing it. The opposite 
mountain is a bare perpendicular rock. From the side where 
I now stood Montanvert was exactly opposite, at the distance 
of a league; and above it rose Mont Blanc, in awful majesty. 
I remained in a recess of the rock, gazing on this wonderful 
and stupendous scene. The sea, or rather the vast river of 
ice, wound among its dependent mountains, whose aerial 
summits hung over its recesses. Their icy and glittering 
peaks shone in the sunlight over the clouds. My heart, which 
was before sorrowful, now swelled with something like joy; I 
exclaimed — "Wandering spirits, if indeed ye wander, and do 
not rest in your narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, 
or take me, as your companion, away from the joys of life." 

1 02 Chapter II 

As I said this, I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, 
at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman 
speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among 
which I had walked with caution; his stature also, as he ap- 
proached, seemed to exceed that of man. I was troubled: a 
mist came over my eyes, and I felt a faintness seize me; but 
I was quickly restored by the cold gale of the mountains. I 
perceived, as the shape came nearer, (sight tremendous and 
abhorred!) that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trem- 
bled with rage and horror, resolving to wait his approach, and 
then close with him in mortal combat. He approached; his 
countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain 
and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost 
too horrible for human eyes. But I scarcely observed this; 
anger and hatred had at first deprived me of utterance, and I 
recovered only to overwhelm him with words expressive of 
furious detestation and contempt. 

"Devil!" I exclaimed, "do you dare approach me? and 
do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on 
your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! or rather stay, 
that I may trample you to dust! and, oh, that I could, with the 
extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims 
whom you have so diabolically murdered!" 

"I expected this reception," said the daemon. "All men 
hate the wretched; how then must I be hated, who am mis- 
erable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest 
and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties 
only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose 
to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty 
towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of 
mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave 
them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw 
of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining 

Chapter II 103 


"Abhorred monster! fiend that thou art! the tortures of 
hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil! 
you reproach me with your creation; come on then, that I 
may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed." 

My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled 
by all the feelings which can arm one being against the 
existence of another. 

He easily eluded me, and said, 

"Be calm! I entreat you to hear me, before you give vent 
to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered 
enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although 
it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, 
and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more 
powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine; my 
joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself 
in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even 
mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also 
perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, 
be not equitable to every other, and trample upon me alone, 
to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is 
most due. Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be 
thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest 
from joy for no misdeed. Every where I see bliss, from which 
I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; 
misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again 
be virtuous." 

"Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community 
between you and me; we are enemies. Begone, or let us try 
our strength in a fight, in which one must fall." 

"How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to 
turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy 
goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein: I 

1 04 Chapter II 

was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but 
am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; 
what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe 
me nothing? they spurn and hate me. The desert mountains 
and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here 
many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are 
a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not 
grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me 
than your fellow-beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of 
my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves 
for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor 
me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable, 
and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in your power 
to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it 
only remains for you to make so great, that not only you 
and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed 
up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be 
moved, and do not disdain me. Listen to my tale: when 
you have heard that, abandon or commiserate me, as you 
shall judge that I deserve. But hear me. The guilty are 
allowed, by human laws, bloody as they may be, to speak in 
their own defence before they are condemned. Listen to me, 
Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, 
with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, 
praise the eternal justice of man! Yet I ask you not to spare 
me: listen to me; and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy 
the work of your hands." 

"Why do you call to my remembrance circumstances of 
which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable 
origin and author? Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in 
which you first saw light! Cursed (although I curse myself) 
be the hands that formed you! You have made me wretched 
beyond expression. You have left me no power to consider 

Chapter II 105 

whether I am just to you, or not. Begone! relieve me from 
the sight of your detested form." 

"Thus I relieve thee, my creator," he said, and placed 
his hated hands before my eyes, which I flung from me with 
violence; "thus I take from thee a sight which you abhor. Still 
thou canst listen to me, and grant me thy compassion. By 
the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you. 
Hear my tale; it is long and strange, and the temperature of 
this place is not fitting to your fine sensations; come to the 
hut upon the mountain. The sun is yet high in the heavens; 
before it descends to hide itself behind yon snowy precipices, 
and illuminate another world, you will have heard my story, 
and can decide. On you it rests, whether I quit for ever the 
neighbourhood of man, and lead a harmless life, or become 
the scourge of your fellow-creatures, and the author of your 
own speedy ruin." 

As he said this, he led the way across the ice: I followed. 
My heart was full, and I did not answer him; but, as I pro- 
ceeded, I weighed the various arguments that he had used, 
and determined at least to listen to his tale. I was partly 
urged by curiosity, and compassion confirmed my resolution. 
I had hitherto supposed him to be the murderer of my brother, 
and I eagerly sought a confirmation or denial of this opinion. 
For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator 
towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him 
happy before I complained of his wickedness. These motives 
urged me to comply with his demand. We crossed the ice, 
therefore, and ascended the opposite rock. The air was cold, 
and the rain again began to descend: we entered the hut, 
the fiend with an air of exultation, I with a heavy heart, and 
depressed spirits. But I consented to listen; and, seating 
myself by the fire which my odious companion had lighted, 
he thus began his tale. 

1 06 Chapter II 


"It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the origi- 
nal aera of my being: all the events of that period appear 
confused and indistinct. A strange multiplicity of sensations 
seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt, at the same time; 
and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish 
between the operations of my various senses. By degrees, I 
remember, a stronger light pressed upon my nerves, so that 
I was obliged to shut my eyes. Darkness then came over me, 
and troubled me; but hardly had I felt this, when, by opening 
my eyes, as I now suppose, the light poured in upon me 
again. I walked, and, I believe, descended; but I presently 
found a great alteration in my sensations. Before, dark and 
opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch 
or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, 
with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid. 
The light became more and more oppressive to me; and, 
the heat wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where 
I could receive shade. This was the forest near Ingolstadt; 
and here I lay by the side of a brook resting from my fatigue, 
until I felt tormented by hunger and thirst. This roused me 
from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which 
I found hanging on the trees, or lying on the ground. I slaked 


1 08 Chapter III 

my thirst at the brook; and then lying down, was overcome 
by sleep. 

"It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and half- 
frightened as it were instinctively, finding myself so desolate. 
Before I had quitted your apartment, on a sensation of cold, 
I had covered myself with some clothes; but these were 
insufficient to secure me from the dews of night. I was a poor, 
helpless, miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish, 
nothing; but, feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down 
and wept. 

"Soon a gentle light stole over the heavens, and gave me 
a sensation of pleasure. I started up, and beheld a radiant 
form rise from among the trees. I gazed with a kind of wonder. 
It moved slowly, but it enlightened my path; and I again went 
out in search of berries. I was still cold, when under one of 
the trees I found a huge cloak, with which I covered myself, 
and sat down upon the ground. No distinct ideas occupied 
my mind; all was confused. I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, 
and darkness; innumerable sounds rung in my ears, and on 
all sides various scents saluted me: the only object that I 
could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed my eyes 
on that with pleasure. 

"Several changes of day and night passed, and the orb 
of night had greatly lessened when I began to distinguish 
my sensations from each other. I gradually saw plainly the 
clear stream that supplied me with drink, and the trees that 
shaded me with their foliage. I was delighted when I first dis- 
covered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, 
proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who 
had often intercepted the light from my eyes. I began also to 
observe, with greater accuracy, the forms that surrounded 
me, and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant roof of light 
which canopied me. Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant 

Chapter III 109 

songs of the birds, but was unable. Sometimes I wished to 
express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth 
and inarticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me 
into silence again. 

"The moon had disappeared from the night, and again, 
with a lessened form, shewed itself, while I still remained in 
the forest. My sensations had, by this time, become distinct, 
and my mind received every day additional ideas. My eyes 
became accustomed to the light, and to perceive objects in 
their right forms; I distinguished the insect from the herb, and, 
by degrees, one herb from another. I found that the sparrow 
uttered none but harsh notes, whilst those of the blackbird 
and thrush were sweet and enticing. 

"One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire 
which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was 
overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. 
In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly 
drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, 
that the same cause should produce such opposite effects! I 
examined the materials of the fire, and to my joy found it to 
be composed of wood. I quickly collected some branches; 
but they were wet, and would not burn. I was pained at 
this, and sat still watching the operation of the fire. The 
wet wood which I had placed near the heat dried, and itself 
became inflamed. I reflected on this; and, by touching the 
various branches, I discovered the cause, and busied myself 
in collecting a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it, 
and have a plentiful supply of fire. When night came on, 
and brought sleep with it, I was in the greatest fear lest my 
fire should be extinguished. I covered it carefully with dry 
wood and leaves, and placed wet branches upon it; and then, 
spreading my cloak, I lay on the ground, and sunk into sleep. 

"It was morning when I awoke, and my first care was 

1 1 Chapter III 

to visit the fire. I uncovered it, and a gentle breeze quickly 
fanned it into a flame. I observed this also, and contrived a 
fan of branches, which roused the embers when they were 
nearly extinguished. When night came again, I found, with 
pleasure, that the fire gave light as well as heat; and that the 
discovery of this element was useful to me in my food; for I 
found some of the offals that the travellers had left had been 
roasted, and tasted much more savoury than the berries I 
gathered from the trees. I tried, therefore, to dress my food 
in the same manner, placing it on the live embers. I found 
that the berries were spoiled by this operation, and the nuts 
and roots much improved. 

"Food, however, became scarce; and I often spent the 
whole day searching in vain for a few acorns to assuage the 
pangs of hunger. When I found this, I resolved to quit the 
place that I had hitherto inhabited, to seek for one where 
the few wants I experienced would be more easily satisfied. 
In this emigration, I exceedingly lamented the loss of the 
fire which I had obtained through accident, and knew not 
how to re-produce it. I gave several hours to the serious 
consideration of this difficulty; but I was obliged to relinquish 
all attempt to supply it; and, wrapping myself up in my cloak, 
I struck across the wood towards the setting sun. I passed 
three days in these rambles, and at length discovered the 
open country. A great fall of snow had taken place the 
night before, and the fields were of one uniform white; the 
appearance was disconsolate, and I found my feet chilled by 
the cold damp substance that covered the ground. 

"It was about seven in the morning, and I longed to obtain 
food and shelter; at length I perceived a small hut, on a rising 
ground, which had doubtless been built for the convenience 
of some shepherd. This was a new sight to me; and I exam- 
ined the structure with great curiosity. Finding the door open, 

Chapter III 111 

I entered. An old man sat in it, near a fire, over which he 
was preparing his breakfast. He turned on hearing a noise; 
and, perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and, quitting the hut, 
ran across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated 
form hardly appeared capable. His appearance, different 
from any I had ever before seen, and his flight, somewhat 
surprised me. But I was enchanted by the appearance of the 
hut: here the snow and rain could not penetrate; the ground 
was dry; and it presented to me then as exquisite and divine 
a retreat as Pandaemonium appeared to the daemons of hell 
after their sufferings in the lake of fire. I greedily devoured 
the remnants of the shepherd's breakfast, which consisted 
of bread, cheese, milk, and wine; the latter, however, I did 
not like. Then overcome by fatigue, I lay down among some 
straw, and fell asleep. 

"It was noon when I awoke; and, allured by the warmth 
of the sun, which shone brightly on the white ground, I de- 
termined to recommence my travels; and, depositing the 
remains of the peasant's breakfast in a wallet I found, I pro- 
ceeded across the fields for several hours, until at sunset 
I arrived at a village. How miraculous did this appear! the 
huts, the neater cottages, and stately houses, engaged my 
admiration by turns. The vegetables in the gardens, the milk 
and cheese that I saw placed at the windows of some of 
the cottages, allured my appetite. One of the best of these 
I entered; but I had hardly placed my foot within the door, 
before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. 
The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, 
until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of 
missile weapons, I escaped to the open country, and fear- 
fully took refuge in a low hovel, quite bare, and making a 
wretched appearance after the palaces I had beheld in the 
village. This hovel, however, joined a cottage of a neat and 

112 Chapter III 

pleasant appearance; but, after my late dearly-bought experi- 
ence, I dared not enter it. My place of refuge was constructed 
of wood, but so low, that I could with difficulty sit upright in it. 
No wood, however, was placed on the earth, which formed 
the floor, but it was dry; and although the wind entered it by 
innumerable chinks, I found it an agreeable asylum from the 
snow and rain. 

"Here then I retreated, and lay down, happy to have 
found a shelter, however miserable, from the inclemency of 
the season, and still more from the barbarity of man. 

"As soon as morning dawned, I crept from my kennel, 
that I might view the adjacent cottage, and discover if I could 
remain in the habitation I had found. It was situated against 
the back of the cottage, and surrounded on the sides which 
were exposed by a pig-stye and a clear pool of water. One 
part was open, and by that I had crept in; but now I covered 
every crevice by which I might be perceived with stones 
and wood, yet in such a manner that I might move them on 
occasion to pass out: all the light I enjoyed came through 
the stye, and that was sufficient for me. 

"Having thus arranged my dwelling, and carpeted it with 
clean straw, I retired; for I saw the figure of a man at a 
distance, and I remembered too well my treatment the night 
before, to trust myself in his power. I had first, however, 
provided for my sustenance for that day, by a loaf of coarse 
bread, which I purloined, and a cup with which I could drink, 
more conveniently than from my hand, of the pure water 
which flowed by my retreat. The floor was a little raised, so 
that it was kept perfectly dry, and by its vicinity to the chimney 
of the cottage it was tolerably warm. 

"Being thus provided, I resolved to reside in this hovel, 
until something should occur which might alter my determina- 
tion. It was indeed a paradise, compared to the bleak forest, 

Chapter III 113 

my former residence, the rain-dropping branches, and dank 
earth. I ate my breakfast with pleasure, and was about to 
remove a plank to procure myself a little water, when I heard 
a step, and, looking through a small chink, I beheld a young 
creature, with a pail on her head, passing before my hovel. 
The girl was young and of gentle demeanour, unlike what I 
have since found cottagers and farm-house servants to be. 
Yet she was meanly dressed, a coarse blue petticoat and a 
linen jacket being her only garb; her fair hair was plaited, but 
not adorned; she looked patient, yet sad. I lost sight of her; 
and in about a quarter of an hour she returned, bearing the 
pail, which was now partly filled with milk. As she walked 
along, seemingly incommoded by the burden, a young man 
met her, whose countenance expressed a deeper despon- 
dence. Uttering a few sounds with an air of melancholy, he 
took the pail from her head, and bore it to the cottage himself. 
She followed, and they disappeared. Presently I saw the 
young man again, with some tools in his hand, cross the field 
behind the cottage; and the girl was also busied, sometimes 
in the house, and sometimes in the yard. 

"On examining my dwelling, I found that one of the win- 
dows of the cottage had formerly occupied a part of it, but the 
panes had been filled up with wood. In one of these was a 
small and almost imperceptible chink, through which the eye 
could just penetrate. Through this crevice, a small room was 
visible, white-washed and clean, but very bare of furniture. 
In one corner, near a small fire, sat an old man, leaning his 
head on his hands in a disconsolate attitude. The young 
girl was occupied in arranging the cottage; but presently she 
took something out of a drawer, which employed her hands, 
and she sat down beside the old man, who, taking up an 
instrument, began to play, and to produce sounds, sweeter 
than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale. It was a lovely 

114 Chapter III 

sight, even to me, poor wretch! who had never beheld aught 
beautiful before. The silver hair and benevolent countenance 
of the aged cottager, won my reverence; while the gentle 
manners of the girl enticed my love. He played a sweet 
mournful air, which I perceived drew tears from the eyes of 
his amiable companion, of which the old man took no notice, 
until she sobbed audibly; he then pronounced a few sounds, 
and the fair creature, leaving her work, knelt at his feet. He 
raised her, and smiled with such kindness and affection, that 
I felt sensations of a peculiar and over-powering nature: they 
were a mixture of pain and pleasure, such as I had never 
before experienced, either from hunger or cold, warmth or 
food; and I withdrew from the window, unable to bear these 

"Soon after this the young man returned, bearing on his 
shoulders a load of wood. The girl met him at the door, 
helped to relieve him of his burden, and, taking some of the 
fuel into the cottage, placed it on the fire; then she and the 
youth went apart into a nook of the cottage, and he shewed 
her a large loaf and a piece of cheese. She seemed pleased; 
and went into the garden for some roots and plants, which 
she placed in water, and then upon the fire. She afterwards 
continued her work, whilst the young man went into the 
garden, and appeared busily employed in digging and pulling 
up roots. After he had been employed thus about an hour, 
the young woman joined him, and they entered the cottage 

"The old man had, in the mean time, been pensive; but, 
on the appearance of his companions, he assumed a more 
cheerful air, and they sat down to eat. The meal was quickly 
dispatched. The young woman was again occupied in ar- 
ranging the cottage; the old man walked before the cottage 
in the sun for a few minutes, leaning on the arm of the 

Chapter III 115 

youth. Nothing could exceed in beauty the contrast between 
these two excellent creatures. One was old, with silver hairs 
and a countenance beaming with benevolence and love: the 
younger was slight and graceful in his figure, and his features 
were moulded with the finest symmetry; yet his eyes and at- 
titude expressed the utmost sadness and despondency. The 
old man returned to the cottage; and the youth, with tools 
different from those he had used in the morning, directed his 
steps across the fields. 

"Night quickly shut in; but, to my extreme wonder, I found 
that the cottagers had a means of prolonging light, by the 
use of tapers, and was delighted to find, that the setting of 
the sun did not put an end to the pleasure I experienced in 
watching my human neighbours. In the evening, the young 
girl and her companion were employed in various occupa- 
tions which I did not understand; and the old man again 
took up the instrument, which produced the divine sounds 
that had enchanted me in the morning. So soon as he had 
finished, the youth began, not to play, but to utter sounds 
that were monotonous, and neither resembling the harmony 
of the old man's instrument or the songs of the birds; I since 
found that he read aloud, but at that time I knew nothing of 
the science of words or letters. 

"The family, after having been thus occupied for a short 
time, extinguished their lights, and retired, as I conjectured, 
to rest." 

116 Chapter III 

Chapter IV 

"I lay on my straw, but I could not sleep. I thought of the 
occurrences of the day. What chiefly struck me was the 
gentle manners of these people; and I longed to join them, 
but dared not. I remembered too well the treatment I had 
suffered the night before from the barbarous villagers, and 
resolved, whatever course of conduct I might hereafter think 
it right to pursue, that for the present I would remain quietly 
in my hovel, watching, and endeavouring to discover the 
motives which influenced their actions. 

"The cottagers arose the next morning before the sun. 
The young woman arranged the cottage, and prepared the 
food; and the youth departed after the first meal. 

"This day was passed in the same routine as that which 
preceded it. The young man was constantly employed out 
of doors, and the girl in various laborious occupations within. 
The old man, whom I soon perceived to be blind, employed 
his leisure hours on his instrument, or in contemplation. Noth- 
ing could exceed the love and respect which the younger 
cottagers exhibited towards their venerable companion. They 
performed towards him every little office of affection and duty 
with gentleness; and he rewarded them by his benevolent 


118 Chapter IV 

"They were not entirely happy. The young man and his 
companion often went apart, and appeared to weep. I saw 
no cause for their unhappiness; but I was deeply affected 
by it. If such lovely creatures were miserable, it was less 
strange that I, an imperfect and solitary being, should be 
wretched. Yet why were these gentle beings unhappy? They 
possessed a delightful house (for such it was in my eyes), 
and every luxury; they had a fire to warm them when chill, 
and delicious viands when hungry; they were dressed in 
excellent clothes; and, still more, they enjoyed one another's 
company and speech, interchanging each day looks of af- 
fection and kindness. What did their tears imply? Did they 
really express pain? I was at first unable to solve these 
questions; but perpetual attention, and time, explained to me 
many appearances which were at first enigmatic. 

"A considerable period elapsed before I discovered one 
of the causes of the uneasiness of this amiable family; it was 
poverty: and they suffered that evil in a very distressing de- 
gree. Their nourishment consisted entirely of the vegetables 
of their garden, and the milk of one cow, who gave very little 
during the winter, when its masters could scarcely procure 
food to support it. They often, I believe, suffered the pangs of 
hunger very poignantly, especially the two younger cottagers; 
for several times they placed food before the old man, when 
they reserved none for themselves. 

"This trait of kindness moved me sensibly. I had been 
accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store 
for my own consumption; but when I found that in doing this 
I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained, and satisfied 
myself with berries, nuts, and roots, which I gathered from a 
neighbouring wood. 

"I discovered also another means through which I was 
enabled to assist their labours. I found that the youth spent 

Chapter IV 119 

a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire; 
and, during the night, I often took his tools, the use of which 
I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for 
the consumption of several days. 

"I remember, the first time that I did this, the young 
woman, when she opened the door in the morning, appeared 
greatly astonished on seeing a great pile of wood on the out- 
side. She uttered some words in a loud voice, and the youth 
joined her, who also expressed surprise. I observed, with 
pleasure, that he did not go to the forest that day, but spent it 
in repairing the cottage, and cultivating the garden. 

"By degrees I made a discovery of still greater moment. I 
found that these people possessed a method of communicat- 
ing their experience and feelings to one another by articulate 
sounds. I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes 
produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds 
and countenances of the hearers. This was indeed a godlike 
science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with 
it. But I was baffled in every attempt I made for this purpose. 
Their pronunciation was quick; and the words they uttered, 
not having any apparent connexion with visible objects, I was 
unable to discover any clue by which I could unravel the mys- 
tery of their reference. By great application, however, and 
after having remained during the space of several revolutions 
of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the names that were 
given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse: I 
learned and applied the words fire, milk, bread, and wood. 
I learned also the names of the cottagers themselves. The 
youth and his companion had each of them several names, 
but the old man had only one, which was father. The girl 
was called sister, or Agatha; and the youth Felix, brother, or 
son. I cannot describe the delight I felt when I learned the 
ideas appropriated to each of these sounds, and was able to 

120 Chapter IV 

pronounce them. I distinguished several other words, without 
being able as yet to understand or apply them; such as good, 
clearest, unhappy. 

"I spent the winter in this manner. The gentle manners 
and beauty of the cottagers greatly endeared them to me: 
when they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they re- 
joiced, I sympathized in their joys. I saw few human beings 
beside them; and if any other happened to enter the cottage, 
their harsh manners and rude gait only enhanced to me the 
superior accomplishments of my friends. The old man, I 
could perceive, often endeavoured to encourage his children, 
as sometimes I found that he called them, to cast off their 
melancholy. He would talk in a cheerful accent, with an ex- 
pression of goodness that bestowed pleasure even upon me. 
Agatha listened with respect, her eyes sometimes filled with 
tears, which she endeavoured to wipe away unperceived; 
but I generally found that her countenance and tone were 
more cheerful after having listened to the exhortations of her 
father. It was not thus with Felix. He was always the saddest 
of the groupe; and, even to my unpractised senses, he ap- 
peared to have suffered more deeply than his friends. But 
if his countenance was more sorrowful, his voice was more 
cheerful than that of his sister, especially when he addressed 
the old man. 

"I could mention innumerable instances, which, although 
slight, marked the dispositions of these amiable cottagers. 
In the midst of poverty and want, Felix carried with pleasure 
to his sister the first little white flower that peeped out from 
beneath the snowy ground. Early in the morning before 
she had risen, he cleared away the snow that obstructed 
her path to the milk-house, drew water from the well, and 
brought the wood from the out-house, where, to his perpetual 
astonishment, he found his store always replenished by an 

Chapter IV 121 

invisible hand. In the day, I believe, he worked sometimes for 
a neighbouring farmer, because he often went forth, and did 
not return until dinner, yet brought no wood with him. At other 
times he worked in the garden; but, as there was little to do 
in the frosty season, he read to the old man and Agatha. 

"This reading had puzzled me extremely at first; but, by 
degrees, I discovered that he uttered many of the same 
sounds when he read as when he talked. I conjectured, 
therefore, that he found on the paper signs for speech which 
he understood, and I ardently longed to comprehend these 
also; but how was that possible, when I did not even under- 
stand the sounds for which they stood as signs? I improved, 
however, sensibly in this science, but not sufficiently to follow 
up any kind of conversation, although I applied my whole 
mind to the endeavour: for I easily perceived that, although I 
eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought 
not to make the attempt until I had first become master of 
their language; which knowledge might enable me to make 
them overlook the deformity of my figure; for with this also 
the contrast perpetually presented to my eyes had made me 

"I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers — their 
grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I 
terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I 
started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was 
reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced 
that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the 
bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! 
I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable 

"As the sun became warmer, and the light of day longer, 
the snow vanished, and I beheld the bare trees and the black 
earth. From this time Felix was more employed; and the 

122 Chapter IV 

heart-moving indications of impending famine disappeared. 
Their food, as I afterwards found, was coarse, but it was 
wholesome; and they procured a sufficiency of it. Several 
new kinds of plants sprung up in the garden, which they 
dressed; and these signs of comfort increased daily as the 
season advanced. 

"The old man, leaning on his son, walked each day at 
noon, when it did not rain, as I found it was called when the 
heavens poured forth its waters. This frequently took place; 
but a high wind quickly dried the earth, and the season 
became far more pleasant than it had been. 

"My mode of life in my hovel was uniform. During the 
morning I attended the motions of the cottagers; and when 
they were dispersed in various occupations, I slept: the 
remainder of the day was spent in observing my friends. 
When they had retired to rest, if there was any moon, or 
the night was star-light, I went into the woods, and collected 
my own food and fuel for the cottage. When I returned, 
as often as it was necessary, I cleared their path from the 
snow, and performed those offices that I had seen done by 
Felix. I afterwards found that these labours, performed by an 
invisible hand, greatly astonished them; and once or twice I 
heard them, on these occasions, utter the words good spirit, 
wonderful; but I did not then understand the signification of 
these terms. 

"My thoughts now became more active, and I longed to 
discover the motives and feelings of these lovely creatures; 
I was inquisitive to know why Felix appeared so miserable, 
and Agatha so sad. I thought (foolish wretch!) that it might be 
in my power to restore happiness to these deserving people. 
When I slept, or was absent, the forms of the venerable 
blind father, the gentle Agatha, and the excellent Felix, flitted 
before me. I looked upon them as superior beings, who 

Chapter IV 123 

would be the arbiters of my future destiny. I formed in my 
imagination a thousand pictures of presenting myself to them, 
and their reception of me. I imagined that they would be 
disgusted, until, by my gentle demeanour and conciliating 
words, I should first win their favour, and afterwards their 

"These thoughts exhilarated me, and led me to apply with 
fresh ardour to the acquiring the art of language. My organs 
were indeed harsh, but supple; and although my voice was 
very unlike the soft music of their tones, yet I pronounced 
such words as I understood with tolerable ease. It was as 
the ass and the lap-dog; yet surely the gentle ass, whose 
intentions were affectionate, although his manners were rude, 
deserved better treatment than blows and execration. 

"The pleasant showers and genial warmth of spring gr- 
eatly altered the aspect of the earth. Men, who before this 
change seemed to have been hid in caves, dispersed them- 
selves, and were employed in various arts of cultivation. The 
birds sang in more cheerful notes, and the leaves began to 
bud forth on the trees. Happy, happy earth! fit habitation for 
gods, which, so short a time before, was bleak, damp, and 
unwholesome. My spirits were elevated by the enchanting 
appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, 
the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays 
of hope, and anticipations of joy." 

124 Chapter IV 

Chapter V 

"I now hasten to the more moving part of my story. I shall 
relate events that impressed me with feelings which, from 
what I was, have made me what I am. 

"Spring advanced rapidly; the weather became fine, and 
the skies cloudless. It surprised me, that what before was 
desert and gloomy should now bloom with the most beautiful 
flowers and verdure. My senses were gratified and refreshed 
by a thousand scents of delight, and a thousand sights of 

"It was on one of these days, when my cottagers peri- 
odically rested from labour — the old man played on his 
guitar, and the children listened to him — I observed that the 
countenance of Felix was melancholy beyond expression: he 
sighed frequently; and once his father paused in his music, 
and I conjectured by his manner that he inquired the cause 
of his son's sorrow. Felix replied in a cheerful accent, and 
the old man was recommencing his music, when some one 
tapped at the door. 

"It was a lady on horseback, accompanied by a country- 
man as a guide. The lady was dressed in a dark suit, and 
covered with a thick black veil. Agatha asked a question; to 
which the stranger only replied by pronouncing, in a sweet 


126 Chapter V 

accent, the name of Felix. Her voice was musical, but unlike 
that of either of my friends. On hearing this word, Felix came 
up hastily to the lady; who, when she saw him, threw up 
her veil, and I beheld a countenance of angelic beauty and 
expression. Her hair of a shining raven black, and curiously 
braided; her eyes were dark, but gentle, although animated; 
her features of a regular proportion, and her complexion 
wondrously fair, each cheek tinged with a lovely pink. 

"Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, 
every trait of sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantly 
expressed a degree of ecstatic joy, of which I could hardly 
have believed it capable; his eyes sparkled, as his cheek 
flushed with pleasure; and at that moment I thought him as 
beautiful as the stranger. She appeared affected by different 
feelings; wiping a few tears from her lovely eyes, she held 
out her hand to Felix, who kissed it rapturously, and called 
her, as well as I could distinguish, his sweet Arabian. She 
did not appear to understand him, but smiled. He assisted 
her to dismount, and, dismissing her guide, conducted her 
into the cottage. Some conversation took place between him 
and his father; and the young stranger knelt at the old man's 
feet, and would have kissed his hand, but he raised her, and 
embraced her affectionately. 

"I soon perceived, that although the stranger uttered artic- 
ulate sounds, and appeared to have a language of her own, 
she was neither understood by, or herself understood, the cot- 
tagers. They made many signs which I did not comprehend; 
but I saw that her presence diffused gladness through the cot- 
tage, dispelling their sorrow as the sun dissipates the morn- 
ing mists. Felix seemed peculiarly happy, and with smiles 
of delight welcomed his Arabian. Agatha, the ever-gentle 
Agatha, kissed the hands of the lovely stranger; and, pointing 
to her brother, made signs which appeared to me to mean 

Chapter V 127 

that he had been sorrowful until she came. Some hours 
passed thus, while they, by their countenances, expressed 
joy, the cause of which I did not comprehend. Presently I 
found, by the frequent recurrence of one sound which the 
stranger repeated after them, that she was endeavouring to 
learn their language; and the idea instantly occurred to me, 
that I should make use of the same instructions to the same 
end. The stranger learned about twenty words at the first 
lesson, most of them indeed were those which I had before 
understood, but I profited by the others. 

"As night came on, Agatha and the Arabian retired early. 
When they separated, Felix kissed the hand of the stranger, 
and said, 'Good night, sweet Safie.' He sat up much longer, 
conversing with his father; and, by the frequent repetition 
of her name, I conjectured that their lovely guest was the 
subject of their conversation. I ardently desired to understand 
them, and bent every faculty towards that purpose, but found 
it utterly impossible. 

"The next morning Felix went out to his work; and, after 
the usual occupations of Agatha were finished, the Arabian 
sat at the feet of the old man, and, taking his guitar, played 
some airs so entrancingly beautiful, that they at once drew 
tears of sorrow and delight from my eyes. She sang, and her 
voice flowed in a rich cadence, swelling or dying away, like a 
nightingale of the woods. 

"When she had finished, she gave the guitar to Agatha, 
who at first declined it. She played a simple air, and her voice 
accompanied it in sweet accents, but unlike the wondrous 
strain of the stranger. The old man appeared enraptured, 
and said some words, which Agatha endeavoured to explain 
to Safie, and by which he appeared to wish to express that 
she bestowed on him the greatest delight by her music. 

"The days now passed as peaceably as before, with the 

128 Chapter V 

sole alteration, that joy had taken place of sadness in the 
countenances of my friends. Safie was always gay and 
happy; she and I improved rapidly in the knowledge of lan- 
guage, so that in two months I began to comprehend most 
of the words uttered by my protectors. 

"In the meanwhile also the black ground was covered with 
herbage, and the green banks interspersed with innumerable 
flowers, sweet to the scent and the eyes, stars of pale radi- 
ance among the moonlight woods; the sun became warmer, 
the nights clear and balmy; and my nocturnal rambles were 
an extreme pleasure to me, although they were considerably 
shortened by the late setting and early rising of the sun; for 
I never ventured abroad during daylight, fearful of meeting 
with the same treatment as I had formerly endured in the first 
village which I entered. 

"My days were spent in close attention, that I might 
more speedily master the language; and I may boast that 
I improved more rapidly than the Arabian, who understood 
very little, and conversed in broken accents, whilst I com- 
prehended and could imitate almost every word that was 

"While I improved in speech, I also learned the science 
of letters, as it was taught to the stranger; and this opened 
before me a wide field for wonder and delight. 

"The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney's 
Ruins of Empires. I should not have understood the purport 
of this book, had not Felix, in reading it, given very minute 
explanations. He had chosen this work, he said, because 
the declamatory style was framed in imitation of the eastern 
authors. Through this work I obtained a cursory knowledge 
of history, and a view of the several empires at present 
existing in the world; it gave me an insight into the manners, 
governments, and religions of the different nations of the 

Chapter V 129 

earth. I heard of the slothful Asiatics; of the stupendous 
genius and mental activity of the Grecians; of the wars and 
wonderful virtue of the early Romans — of their subsequent 
degeneration — of the decline of that mighty empire; of 
chivalry Christianity and kings. I heard of the discovery 
of the American hemisphere, and wept with Safie over the 
hapless fate of its original inhabitants. 

"These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange 
feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, 
and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at 
one time a mere scion of the evil principle, and at another 
as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a 
great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that 
can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many 
on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a 
condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless 
worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man 
could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were 
laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice 
and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with 
disgust and loathing. 

"Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new 
wonders to me. While I listened to the instructions which 
Felix bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange system of 
human society was explained to me. I heard of the division 
of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty; of rank, 
descent, and noble blood. 

"The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned 
that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow-creatures 
were, high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man 
might be respected with only one of these acquisitions; but 
without either he was considered, except in very rare in- 
stances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his 

1 30 Chapter V 

powers for the profit of the chosen few. And what was I? 
Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but 
I knew that I possessed no money no friends, no kind of 
property. I was, besides, endowed with a figure hideously 
deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature 
as man. I was more agile than they, and could subsist upon 
coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less 
injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded their's. When I 
looked around, I saw and heard of none like me. Was I then 
a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, 
and whom all men disowned? 

"I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections 
inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only 
increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had for ever remained 
in my native wood, nor known or felt beyond the sensations 
of hunger, thirst, and heat! 

"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the 
mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock. 
I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling; but I 
learned that there was but one means to overcome the sen- 
sation of pain, and that was death — a state which I feared 
yet did not understand. I admired virtue and good feelings, 
and loved the gentle manners and amiable qualities of my 
cottagers; but I was shut out from intercourse with them, 
except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I 
was unseen and unknown, and which rather increased than 
satisfied the desire I had of becoming one among my fellows. 
The gentle words of Agatha, and the animated smiles of the 
charming Arabian, were not for me. The mild exhortations 
of the old man, and the lively conversation of the loved Felix, 
were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch! 

"Other lessons were impressed upon me even more 
deeply. I heard of the difference of sexes; of the birth and 

Chapter V 131 

growth of children; how the father doated on the smiles of 
the infant, and the lively sallies of the older child; how all 
the life and cares of the mother were wrapt up in the pre- 
cious charge; how the mind of youth expanded and gained 
knowledge; of brother, sister, and all the various relationships 
which bind one human being to another in mutual bonds. 

"But where were my friends and relations? No father had 
watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with 
smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now 
a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. From 
my earliest remembrance I had been as I then was in height 
and proportion. I had never yet seen a being resembling me, 
or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I? The 
question again recurred, to be answered only with groans. 

"I will soon explain to what these feelings tended; but 
allow me now to return to the cottagers, whose story excited 
in me such various feelings of indignation, delight, and won- 
der, but which all terminated in additional love and reverence 
for my protectors (for so I loved, in an innocent, half painful 
self-deceit, to call them)." 

1 32 Chapter V 

Chapter VI 

"Some time elapsed before I learned the history of my friends. 
It was one which could not fail to impress itself deeply on my 
mind, unfolding as it did a number of circumstances each 
interesting and wonderful to one so utterly inexperienced as 
I was. 

"The name of the old man was De Lacey. He was de- 
scended from a good family in France, where he had lived 
for many years in affluence, respected by his superiors, and 
beloved by his equals. His son was bred in the service of his 
country; and Agatha had ranked with ladies of the highest 
distinction. A few months before my arrival, they had lived in 
a large and luxurious city, called Paris, surrounded by friends, 
and possessed of every enjoyment which virtue, refinement 
of intellect, or taste, accompanied by a moderate fortune, 
could afford. 

"The father of Safie had been the cause of their ruin. 
He was a Turkish merchant, and had inhabited Paris for 
many years, when, for some reason which I could not learn, 
he became obnoxious to the government. He was seized 
and cast into prison the very day that Safie arrived from 
Constantinople to join him. He was tried, and condemned 
to death. The injustice of his sentence was very flagrant; all 


134 Chapter VI 

Paris was indignant; and it was judged that his religion and 
wealth, rather than the crime alleged against him, had been 
the cause of his condemnation. 

"Felix had been present at the trial; his horror and indig- 
nation were uncontrollable, when he heard the decision of 
the court. He made, at that moment, a solemn vow to deliver 
him, and then looked around for the means. After many fruit- 
less attempts to gain admittance to the prison, he found a 
strongly grated window in an unguarded part of the building, 
which lighted the dungeon of the unfortunate Mahometan; 
who, loaded with chains, waited in despair the execution 
of the barbarous sentence. Felix visited the grate at night, 
and made known to the prisoner his intentions in his favour. 
The Turk, amazed and delighted, endeavoured to kindle the 
zeal of his deliverer by promises of reward and wealth. Felix 
rejected his offers with contempt; yet when he saw the lovely 
Safie, who was allowed to visit her father, and who, by her 
gestures, expressed her lively gratitude, the youth could not 
help owning to his own mind, that the captive possessed a 
treasure which would fully reward his toil and hazard. 

"The Turk quickly perceived the impression that his daugh- 
ter had made on the heart of Felix, and endeavoured to se- 
cure him more entirely in his interests by the promise of her 
hand in marriage, so soon as he should be conveyed to a 
place of safety. Felix was too delicate to accept this offer; yet 
he looked forward to the probability of that event as to the 
consummation of his happiness. 

"During the ensuing days, while the preparations were 
going forward for the escape of the merchant, the zeal of 
Felix was warmed by several letters that he received from 
this lovely girl, who found means to express her thoughts in 
the language of her lover by the aid of an old man, a servant 
of her father's, who understood French. She thanked him in 

Chapter VI 135 

the most ardent terms for his intended services towards her 
father; and at the same time she gently deplored her own 

"I have copies of these letters; for I found means, during 
my residence in the hovel, to procure the implements of 
writing; and the letters were often in the hands of Felix or 
Agatha. Before I depart, I will give them to you, they will prove 
the truth of my tale; but at present, as the sun is already far 
declined, I shall only have time to repeat the substance of 
them to you. 

"Safie related, that her mother was a Christian Arab, 
seized and made a slave by the Turks; recommended by her 
beauty, she had won the heart of the father of Safie, who 
married her. The young girl spoke in high and enthusiastic 
terms of her mother, who, born in freedom spurned the 
bondage to which she was now reduced. She instructed her 
daughter in the tenets of her religion, and taught her to aspire 
to higher powers of intellect, and an independence of spirit, 
forbidden to the female followers of Mahomet. This lady died; 
but her lessons were indelibly impressed on the mind of Safie, 
who sickened at the prospect of again returning to Asia, and 
the being immured within the walls of a haram, allowed only 
to occupy herself with puerile amusements, ill suited to the 
temper of her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and 
a noble emulation for virtue. The prospect of marrying a 
Christian, and remaining in a country where women were 
allowed to take a rank in society, was enchanting to her. 

"The day for the execution of the Turk was fixed; but, on 
the night previous to it, he had quitted prison, and before 
morning was distant many leagues from Paris. Felix had 
procured passports in the name of his father, sister, and 
himself. He had previously communicated his plan to the 
former, who aided the deceit by quitting his house, under 

136 Chapter VI 

the pretence of a journey, and concealed himself, with his 
daughter, in an obscure part of Paris. 

"Felix conducted the fugitives through France to Lyons, 
and across Mont Cenis to Leghorn, where the merchant had 
decided to wait a favourable opportunity of passing into some 
part of the Turkish dominions. 

"Safie resolved to remain with her father until the moment 
of his departure, before which time the Turk renewed his 
promise that she should be united to his deliverer; and Felix 
remained with them in expectation of that event; and in 
the mean time he enjoyed the society of the Arabian, who 
exhibited towards him the simplest and tenderest affection. 
They conversed with one another through the means of an 
interpreter, and sometimes with the interpretation of looks; 
and Safie sang to him the divine airs of her native country. 

"The Turk allowed this intimacy to take place, and en- 
couraged the hopes of the youthful lovers, while in his heart 
he had formed far other plans. He loathed the idea that 
his daughter should be united to a Christian; but he feared 
the resentment of Felix if he should appear lukewarm; for 
he knew that he was still in the power of his deliverer, if he 
should choose to betray him to the Italian state which they 
inhabited. He revolved a thousand plans by which he should 
be enabled to prolong the deceit until it might be no longer 
necessary, and secretly to take his daughter with him when 
he departed. His plans were greatly facilitated by the news 
which arrived from Paris. 

"The government of France were greatly enraged at the 
escape of their victim, and spared no pains to detect and 
punish his deliverer. The plot of Felix was quickly discovered, 
and De Lacey and Agatha were thrown into prison. The news 
reached Felix, and roused him from his dream of pleasure. 
His blind and aged father, and his gentle sister, lay in a 

Chapter VI 137 

noisome dungeon, while he enjoyed the free air, and the 
society of her whom he loved. This idea was torture to him. 
He quickly arranged with the Turk, that if the latter should find 
a favourable opportunity for escape before Felix could return 
to Italy, Safie should remain as a boarder at a convent at 
Leghorn; and then, quitting the lovely Arabian, he hastened 
to Paris, and delivered himself up to the vengeance of the 
law, hoping to free De Lacey and Agatha by this proceeding. 

"He did not succeed. They remained confined for five 
months before the trial took place; the result of which de- 
prived them of their fortune, and condemned them to a per- 
petual exile from their native country. 

"They found a miserable asylum in the cottage in Ger- 
many, where I discovered them. Felix soon learned that the 
treacherous Turk, for whom he and his family endured such 
unheard-of oppression, on discovering that his deliverer was 
thus reduced to poverty and impotence, became a traitor 
to good feeling and honour, and had quitted Italy with his 
daughter, insultingly sending Felix a pittance of money to aid 
him, as he said, in some plan of future maintenance. 

"Such were the events that preyed on the heart of Felix, 
and rendered him, when I first saw him, the most miserable 
of his family. He could have endured poverty, and when this 
distress had been the meed of his virtue, he would have 
gloried in it: but the ingratitude of the Turk, and the loss of his 
beloved Safie, were misfortunes more bitter and irreparable. 
The arrival of the Arabian now infused new life into his soul. 

"When the news reached Leghorn, that Felix was de- 
prived of his wealth and rank, the merchant commanded 
his daughter to think no more of her lover, but to prepare to 
return with him to her native country. The generous nature 
of Safie was outraged by this command; she attempted to 
expostulate with her father, but he left her angrily, reiterating 

138 Chapter VI 

his tyrannical mandate. 

"A few days after, the Turk entered his daughter's apart- 
ment, and told her hastily, that he had reason to believe that 
his residence at Leghorn had been divulged, and that he 
should speedily be delivered up to the French government; 
he had, consequently, hired a vessel to convey him to Con- 
stantinople, for which city he should sail in a few hours. He 
intended to leave his daughter under the care of a confiden- 
tial servant, to follow at her leisure with the greater part of 
his property, which had not yet arrived at Leghorn. 

"When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan 
of conduct that it would become her to pursue in this emer- 
gency. A residence in Turkey was abhorrent to her; her 
religion and feelings were alike adverse to it. By some pa- 
pers of her father's, which fell into her hands, she heard of 
the exile of her lover, and learnt the name of the spot where 
he then resided. She hesitated some time, but at length she 
formed her determination. Taking with her some jewels that 
belonged to her, and a small sum of money, she quitted Italy, 
with an attendant, a native of Leghorn, but who understood 
the common language of Turkey, and departed for Germany. 

"She arrived in safety at a town about twenty leagues from 
the cottage of De Lacey, when her attendant fell dangerously 
ill. Safie nursed her with the most devoted affection; but the 
poor girl died, and the Arabian was left alone, unacquainted 
with the language of the country, and utterly ignorant of the 
customs of the world. She fell, however, into good hands. 
The Italian had mentioned the name of the spot for which 
they were bound; and, after her death, the woman of the 
house in which they had lived took care that Safie should 
arrive in safety at the cottage of her lover." 

Chapter VII 

"Such was the history of my beloved cottagers. It impressed 
me deeply. I learned, from the views of social life which it 
developed, to admire their virtues, and to deprecate the vices 
of mankind. 

"As yet I looked upon crime as a distant evil; benevo- 
lence and generosity were ever present before me, inciting 
within me a desire to become an actor in the busy scene 
where so many admirable qualities were called forth and 
displayed. But, in giving an account of the progress of my 
intellect, I must not omit a circumstance which occurred in 
the beginning of the month of August of the same year. 

"One night, during my accustomed visit to the neighbour- 
ing wood, where I collected my own food, and brought home 
firing for my protectors, I found on the ground a leathern 
portmanteau, containing several articles of dress and some 
books. I eagerly seized the prize, and returned with it to my 
hovel. Fortunately the books were written in the language 
the elements of which I had acquired at the cottage; they 
consisted of Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch's Lives, and 
the Sorrows of Werter. The possession of these treasures 
gave me extreme delight; I now continually studied and exer- 
cised my mind upon these histories, whilst my friends were 
employed in their ordinary occupations. 


140 Chapter VII 

"I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books. 
They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings, 
that sometimes raised me to ecstacy but more frequently 
sunk me into the lowest dejection. In the Sorrows of Werter, 
besides the interest of its simple and affecting story, so many 
opinions are canvassed, and so many lights thrown upon 
what had hitherto been to me obscure subjects, that I found 
in it a never-ending source of speculation and astonishment. 
The gentle and domestic manners it described, combined 
with lofty sentiments and feelings, which had for their object 
something out of self, accorded well with my experience 
among my protectors, and with the wants which were for 
ever alive in my own bosom. But I thought Werter himself a 
more divine being than I had ever beheld or imagined; his 
character contained no pretension, but it sunk deep. The 
disquisitions upon death and suicide were calculated to fill 
me with wonder. I did not pretend to enter into the merits 
of the case, yet I inclined towards the opinions of the hero, 
whose extinction I wept, without precisely understanding it. 

"As I read, however, I applied much personally to my own 
feelings and condition. I found myself similar, yet at the same 
time strangely unlike the beings concerning whom I read, 
and to whose conversation I was a listener. I sympathized 
with, and partly understood them, but I was unformed in 
mind; I was dependent on none, and related to none. The 
path of my departure was free;' and there was none to lament 
my annihilation. My person was hideous, and my stature 
gigantic: what did this mean? Who was I? What was I? 
Whence did I come? What was my destination? These 
questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve 

"The volume of Plutarch's Lives which I possessed, con- 
tained the histories of the first founders of the ancient re- 

Chapter VII 141 

publics. This book had a far different effect upon me from the 
Sorrows of Werter. I learned from Werter's imaginations de- 
spondency and gloom: but Plutarch taught me high thoughts; 
he elevated me above the wretched sphere of my own re- 
flections, to admire and love the heroes of past ages. Many 
things I read surpassed my understanding and experience. I 
had a very confused knowledge of kingdoms, wide extents 
of country, mighty rivers, and boundless seas. But I was 
perfectly unacquainted with towns, and large assemblages 
of men. The cottage of my protectors had been the only 
school in which I had studied human nature; but this book 
developed new and mightier scenes of action. I read of men 
concerned in public affairs governing or massacring their 
species. I felt the greatest ardour for virtue rise within me, 
and abhorrence for vice, as far as I understood the signi- 
fication of those terms, relative as they were, as I applied 
them, to pleasure and pain alone. Induced by these feelings, 
I was of course led to admire peaceable law-givers, Numa, 
Solon, and Lycurgus, in preference to Romulus and Theseus. 
The patriarchal lives of my protectors caused these impres- 
sions to take a firm hold on my mind; perhaps, if my first 
introduction to humanity had been made by a young soldier, 
burning for glory and slaughter, I should have been imbued 
with different sensations. 

"But Paradise Lost excited different and far deeper emo- 
tions. I read it, as I had read the other volumes which had 
fallen into my hands, as a true history. It moved every feeling 
of wonder and awe, that the picture of an omnipotent God 
warring with his creatures was capable of exciting. I often 
referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me, 
to my own. Like Adam, I was created apparently united by 
no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far 
different from mine in every other respect. He had come 

142 Chapter VII 

forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and 
prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he 
was allowed to converse with, and acquire knowledge from 
beings of a superior nature: but I was wretched, helpless, 
and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter em- 
blem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the 
bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me. 

"Another circumstance strengthened and confirmed these 
feelings. Soon after my arrival in the hovel, I discovered 
some papers in the pocket of the dress which I had taken 
from your laboratory. At first I had neglected them; but now 
that I was able to decypher the characters in which they 
were written, I began to study them with diligence. It was 
your journal of the four months that preceded my creation. 
You minutely described in these papers every step you took 
in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with 
accounts of domestic occurrences. You, doubtless, recollect 
these papers. Here they are. Every thing is related in them 
which bears reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail 
of that series of disgusting circumstances which produced 
it is set in view; the minutest description of my odious and 
loathsome person is given, in language which painted your 
own horrors, and rendered mine ineffaceable. I sickened 
as I read. 'Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed 
in agony. 'Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so 
hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God in 
pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; 
but my form is a filthy type of your's, more horrid from its very 
resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to 
admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.' 

"These were the reflections of my hours of despondency 
and solitude; but when I contemplated the virtues of the 
cottagers, their amiable and benevolent dispositions, I per- 

Chapter VII 143 

suaded myself that when they should become acquainted 
with my admiration of their virtues, they would compassion- 
ate me, and overlook my personal deformity. Could they 
turn from their door one, however monstrous, who solicited 
their compassion and friendship? I resolved, at least, not to 
despair, but in every way to fit myself for an interview with 
them which would decide my fate. I postponed this attempt 
for some months longer; for the importance attached to its 
success inspired me with a dread lest I should fail. Besides, 
I found that my understanding improved so much with every 
day's experience, that I was unwilling to commence this un- 
dertaking until a few more months should have added to my 

"Several changes, in the mean time, took place in the 
cottage. The presence of Safie diffused happiness among 
its inhabitants; and I also found that a greater degree of 
plenty reigned there. Felix and Agatha spent more time in 
amusement and conversation, and were assisted in their 
labours by servants. They did not appear rich, but they 
were contented and happy; their feelings were serene and 
peaceful, while mine became every day more tumultuous. 
Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly 
what a wretched outcast I was. I cherished hope, it is true; 
but it vanished, when I beheld my person reflected in water, 
or my shadow in the moon-shine, even as that frail image 
and that inconstant shade. 

"I endeavoured to crush these fears, and to fortify myself 
for the trial which in a few months I resolved to undergo; 
and sometimes I allowed my thoughts, unchecked by rea- 
son, to ramble in the fields of Paradise, and dared to fancy 
amiable and lovely creatures sympathizing with my feelings 
and cheering my gloom; their angelic countenances breathed 
smiles of consolation. But it was all a dream: no Eve soothed 

144 Chapter VII 

my sorrows, or shared my thoughts; I was alone. I remem- 
bered Adam's supplication to his Creator; but where was 
mine? he had abandoned me, and, in the bitterness of my 
heart, I cursed him. 

"Autumn passed thus. I saw, with surprise and grief, the 
leaves decay and fall, and nature again assume the barren 
and bleak appearance it had worn when I first beheld the 
woods and the lovely moon. Yet I did not heed the bleakness 
of the weather; I was better fitted by my conformation for 
the endurance of cold than heat. But my chief delights were 
the sight of the flowers, the birds, and all the gay apparel 
of summer; when those deserted me, I turned with more 
attention towards the cottagers. Their happiness was not 
decreased by the absence of summer. They loved, and 
sympathized with one another; and their joys, depending on 
each other, were not interrupted by the casualties that took 
place around them. The more I saw of them, the greater 
became my desire to claim their protection and kindness; 
my heart yearned to be known and loved by these amiable 
creatures: to see their sweet looks turned towards me with 
affection, was the utmost limit of my ambition. I dared not 
think that they would turn them from me with disdain and 
horror. The poor that stopped at their door were never driven 
away. I asked, it is true, for greater treasures than a little 
food or rest; I required kindness and sympathy; but I did not 
believe myself utterly unworthy of it. 

"The winter advanced, and an entire revolution of the 
seasons had taken place since I awoke into life. My attention, 
at this time, was solely directed towards my plan of intro- 
ducing myself into the cottage of my protectors. I revolved 
many projects; but that on which I finally fixed was, to enter 
the dwelling when the blind old man should be alone. I had 
sagacity enough to discover, that the unnatural hideousness 

Chapter VII 145 

of my person was the chief object of horror with those who 
had formerly beheld me. My voice, although harsh, had noth- 
ing terrible in it; I thought, therefore, that if, in the absence 
of his children, I could gain the good-will and mediation of 
the old De Lacy, I might, by his means, be tolerated by my 
younger protectors. 

"One day, when the sun shone on the red leaves that 
strewed the ground, and diffused cheerfulness, although it 
denied warmth, Safie, Agatha, and Felix, departed on a long 
country walk, and the old man, at his own desire, was left 
alone in the cottage. When his children had departed, he 
took up his guitar, and played several mournful, but sweet 
airs, more sweet and mournful than I had ever heard him 
play before. At first his countenance was illuminated with 
pleasure, but, as he continued, thoughtfulness and sadness 
succeeded; at length, laying aside the instrument, he sat 
absorbed in reflection. 

"My heart beat quick; this was the hour and moment of 
trial, which would decide my hopes, or realize my fears. The 
servants were gone to a neighbouring fair. All was silent 
in and around the cottage: it was an excellent opportunity; 
yet, when I proceeded to execute my plan, my limbs failed 
me, and I sunk to the ground. Again I rose; and, exerting 
all the firmness of which I was master, removed the planks 
which I had placed before my hovel to conceal my retreat. 
The fresh air revived me, and, with renewed determination, I 
approached the door of their cottage. 

"I knocked. 'Who is there?' said the old man — 'Come 

"I entered; 'Pardon this intrusion,' said I, 'I am a traveller 
in want of a little rest; you would greatly oblige me, if you 
would allow me to remain a few minutes before the fire.' 

"'Enter,' said De Lacy; 'and I will try in what manner I can 

146 Chapter VII 

relieve your wants; but, unfortunately, my children are from 
home, and, as I am blind, I am afraid I shall find it difficult to 
procure food for you.' 

"'Do not trouble yourself, my kind host, I have food; it is 
warmth and rest only that I need.' 

"I sat down, and a silence ensued. I knew that every 
minute was precious to me, yet I remained irresolute in what 
manner to commence the interview; when the old man ad- 
dressed me — 

" 'By your language, stranger, I suppose you are my coun- 
tryman; — are you French?' 

"'No; but I was educated by a French family, and un- 
derstand that language only. I am now going to claim the 
protection of some friends, whom I sincerely love, and of 
whose favour I have some hopes.' 

"'Are these Germans?' 

"'No, they are French. But let us change the subject. 
I am an unfortunate and deserted creature; I look around, 
and I have no relation or friend upon earth. These amiable 
people to whom I go have never seen me, and know little of 
me. I am full of fears; for if I fail there, I am an outcast in the 
world for ever.' 

" 'Do not despair. To be friendless is indeed to be unfor- 
tunate; but the hearts of men, when unprejudiced by any 
obvious self-interest, are full of brotherly love and charity. 
Rely, therefore, on your hopes; and if these friends are good 
and amiable, do not despair.' 

" 'They are kind — they are the most excellent creatures in 
the world; but, unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me. 
I have good dispositions; my life has been hitherto harmless, 
and, in some degree, beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds 
their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind 
friend, they behold only a detestable monster.' 

Chapter VII 147 

"That is indeed unfortunate; but if you are really blame- 
less, cannot you undeceive them?' 

'"I am about to undertake that task; and it is on that 
account that I feel so many overwhelming terrors. I tenderly 
love these friends; I have, unknown to them, been for many 
months in the habits of daily kindness towards them; but 
they believe that I wish to injure them, and it is that prejudice 
which I wish to overcome.' 

"'Where do these friends reside?' 

"'Near this spot.' 

"The old man paused, and then continued, 'If you will 
unreservedly confide to me the particulars of your tale, I 
perhaps may be of use in undeceiving them. I am blind, and 
cannot judge of your countenance, but there is something in 
your words which persuades me that you are sincere. I am 
poor, and an exile; but it will afford me true pleasure to be in 
any way serviceable to a human creature.' 

"'Excellent man! I thank you, and accept your generous 
offer. You raise me from the dust by this kindness; and I trust 
that, by your aid, I shall not be driven from the society and 
sympathy of your fellow-creatures.' 

"'Heaven forbid! even if you were really criminal; for that 
can only drive you to desperation, and not instigate you to 
virtue. I also am unfortunate; I and my family have been 
condemned, although innocent: judge, therefore, if I do not 
feel for your misfortunes.' 

'"How can I thank you, my best and only benefactor? 
from your lips first have I heard the voice of kindness directed 
towards me; I shall be for ever grateful; and your present 
humanity assures me of success with those friends whom I 
am on the point of meeting.' 

"'May I know the names and residence of those friends?' 

"I paused. This, I thought, was the moment of decision, 

148 Chapter VII 

which was to rob me of, or bestow happiness on me for ever. 
I struggled vainly for firmness sufficient to answer him, but 
the effort destroyed all my remaining strength; I sank on the 
chair, and sobbed aloud. At that moment I heard the steps 
of my younger protectors. I had not a moment to lose; but, 
seizing the hand of the old man, I cried, 'Now is the time! 
— save and protect me! You and your family are the friends 
whom I seek. Do not you desert me in the hour of trial!' 
"'Great God!' exclaimed the old man, 'who are you?' 
"At that instant the cottage door was opened, and Felix, 
Safie, and Agatha entered. Who can describe their horror 
and consternation on beholding me? Agatha fainted; and 
Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. 
Felix darted forward, and with supernatural force tore me 
from his father, to whose knees I clung: in a transport of fury, 
he dashed me to the ground, and struck me violently with a 
stick. I could have torn him limb from limb, as the lion rends 
the antelope. But my heart sunk within me as with bitter 
sickness, and I refrained. I saw him on the point of repeating 
his blow, when, overcome by pain and anguish, I quitted the 
cottage, and in the general tumult escaped unperceived to 
my hovel." 

Chapter VIM 

"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, 
did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had 
so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet 
taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and 
revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage 
and its inhabitants, and have glutted myself with their shrieks 
and misery. 

"When night came, I quitted my retreat, and wandered 
in the wood; and now, no longer restrained by the fear of 
discovery, I gave vent to my anguish in fearful howlings. I 
was like a wild beast that had broken the toils; destroying the 
objects that obstructed me, and ranging through the wood 
with a stag-like swiftness. Oh! what a miserable night I 
passed! the cold stars shone in mockery, and the bare trees 
waved their branches above me: now and then the sweet 
voice of a bird burst forth amidst the universal stillness. All, 
save I, were at rest or in enjoyment: I, like the arch fiend, bore 
a hell within me; and, finding myself unsympathized with, 
wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction 
around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin. 

"But this was a luxury of sensation that could not endure; 
I became fatigued with excess of bodily exertion, and sank 


150 Chapter VIII 

on the damp grass in the sick impotence of despair. There 
was none among the myriads of men that existed who would 
pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my 
enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war 
against the species, and, more than all, against him who had 
formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery. 

"The sun rose; I heard the voices of men, and knew that 
it was impossible to return to my retreat during that day. Ac- 
cordingly I hid myself in some thick underwood, determining 
to devote the ensuing hours to reflection on my situation. 

"The pleasant sunshine, and the pure air of day, restored 
me to some degree of tranquillity; and when I considered 
what had passed at the cottage, I could not help believing 
that I had been too hasty in my conclusions. I had certainly 
acted imprudently. It was apparent that my conversation had 
interested the father in my behalf, and I was a fool in having 
exposed my person to the horror of his children. I ought to 
have familiarized the old De Lacy to me, and by degrees have 
discovered myself to the rest of his family, when they should 
have been prepared for my approach. But I did not believe 
my errors to be irretrievable; and, after much consideration, I 
resolved to return to the cottage, seek the old man, and by 
my representations win him to my party. 

"These thoughts calmed me, and in the afternoon I sank 
into a profound sleep; but the fever of my blood did not allow 
me to be visited by peaceful dreams. The horrible scene of 
the preceding day was for ever acting before my eyes; the 
females were flying, and the enraged Felix tearing me from 
his father's feet. I awoke exhausted; and, finding that it was 
already night, I crept forth from my hiding-place, and went in 
search of food. 

"When my hunger was appeased, I directed my steps 
towards the well-known path that conducted to the cottage. 

Chapter VIII 151 

All there was at peace. I crept into my hovel, and remained 
in silent expectation of the accustomed hour when the family 
arose. That hour past, the sun mounted high in the heav- 
ens, but the cottagers did not appear. I trembled violently, 
apprehending some dreadful misfortune. The inside of the 
cottage was dark, and I heard no motion; I cannot describe 
the agony of this suspence. 

"Presently two countrymen passed by; but, pausing near 
the cottage, they entered into conversation, using violent 
gesticulations; but I did not understand what they said, as 
they spoke the language of the country, which differed from 
that of my protectors. Soon after, however, Felix approached 
with another man: I was surprised, as I knew that he had 
not quitted the cottage that morning, and waited anxiously to 
discover, from his discourse, the meaning of these unusual 

"'Do you consider,' said his companion to him, 'that you 
will be obliged to pay three months' rent, and to lose the 
produce of your garden? I do not wish to take any unfair 
advantage, and I beg therefore that you will take some days 
to consider of your determination.' 

"'It is utterly useless,' replied Felix, 'we can never again 
inhabit your cottage. The life of my father is in the great- 
est danger, owing to the dreadful circumstance that I have 
related. My wife and my sister will never recover their hor- 
ror. I entreat you not to reason with me any more. Take 
possession of your tenement, and let me fly from this place.' 

"Felix trembled violently as he said this. He and his 
companion entered the cottage, in which they remained for 
a few minutes, and then departed. I never saw any of the 
family of De Lacy more. 

"I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel 
in a state of utter and stupid despair. My protectors had 

152 Chapter VIII 

departed, and had broken the only link that held me to the 
world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred 
filled my bosom, and I did not strive to controul them; but, 
allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my 
mind towards injury and death. When I thought of my friends, 
of the mild voice of De Lacy, the gentle eyes of Agatha, and 
the exquisite beauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished, 
and a gush of tears somewhat soothed me. But again, when 
I reflected that they had spurned and deserted me, anger 
returned, a rage of anger; and, unable to injure any thing 
human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects. As 
night advanced, I placed a variety of combustibles around 
the cottage; and, after having destroyed every vestige of 
cultivation in the garden, I waited with forced impatience until 
the moon had sunk to commence my operations. 

"As the night advanced, a fierce wind arose from the 
woods, and quickly dispersed the clouds that had loitered in 
the heavens: the blast tore along like a mighty avalanche, 
and produced a kind of insanity in my spirits, that burst all 
bounds of reason and reflection. I lighted the dry branch of 
a tree, and danced with fury around the devoted cottage, my 
eyes still fixed on the western horizon, the edge of which the 
moon nearly touched. A part of its orb was at length hid, and 
I waved my brand; it sunk, and, with a loud scream, I fired 
the straw, and heath, and bushes, which I had collected. The 
wind fanned the fire, and the cottage was quickly enveloped 
by the flames, which clung to it, and licked it with their forked 
and destroying tongues. 

"As soon as I was convinced that no assistance could 
save any part of the habitation, I quitted the scene, and 
sought for refuge in the woods. 

"And now, with the world before me, whither should I 
bend my steps? I resolved to fly far from the scene of my 

Chapter VIII 153 

misfortunes; but to me, hated and despised, every country 
must be equally horrible. At length the thought of you crossed 
my mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, 
my creator; and to whom could I apply with more fitness than 
to him who had given me life? Among the lessons that Felix 
had bestowed upon Safie geography had not been omitted: I 
had learned from these the relative situations of the different 
countries of the earth. You had mentioned Geneva as the 
name of your native town; and towards this place I resolved 
to proceed. 

"But how was I to direct myself? I knew that I must travel 
in a south-westerly direction to reach my destination; but the 
sun was my only guide. I did not know the names of the 
towns that I was to pass through, nor could I ask information 
from a single human being; but I did not despair. From you 
only could I hope for succour, although towards you I felt no 
sentiment but that of hatred. Unfeeling, heartless creator! 
you had endowed me with perceptions and passions, and 
then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and horror of 
mankind. But on you only had I any claim for pity and redress, 
and from you I determined to seek that justice which I vainly 
attempted to gain from any other being that wore the human 

"My travels were long, and the sufferings I endured in- 
tense. It was late in autumn when I quitted the district where 
I had so long resided. I travelled only at night, fearful of 
encountering the visage of a human being. Nature decayed 
around me, and the sun became heatless; rain and snow 
poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface 
of the earth was hard, and chill, and bare, and I found no 
shelter. Oh, earth! how often did I imprecate curses on the 
cause of my being! The mildness of my nature had fled, and 
all within me was turned to gall and bitterness. The nearer 

154 Chapter VIII 

I approached to your habitation, the more deeply did I feel 
the spirit of revenge enkindled in my heart. Snow fell, and 
the waters were hardened, but I rested not. A few incidents 
now and then directed me, and I possessed a map of the 
country; but I often wandered wide from my path. The agony 
of my feelings allowed me no respite: no incident occurred 
from which my rage and misery could not extract its food; 
but a circumstance that happened when I arrived on the con- 
fines of Switzerland, when the sun had recovered its warmth, 
and the earth again began to look green, confirmed in an 
especial manner the bitterness and horror of my feelings. 

"I generally rested during the day, and travelled only when 
I was secured by night from the view of man. One morning, 
however, finding that my path lay through a deep wood, I 
ventured to continue my journey after the sun had risen; 
the day, which was one of the first of spring, cheered even 
me by the loveliness of its sunshine and the balminess of 
the air. I felt emotions of gentleness and pleasure, that had 
long appeared dead, revive within me. Half surprised by the 
novelty of these sensations, I allowed myself to be borne 
away by them; and, forgetting my solitude and deformity, 
dared to be happy. Soft tears again bedewed my cheeks, 
and I even raised my humid eyes with thankfulness towards 
the blessed sun which bestowed such joy upon me. 

"I continued to wind among the paths of the wood, until I 
came to its boundary, which was skirted by a deep and rapid 
river, into which many of the trees bent their branches, now 
budding with the fresh spring. Here I paused, not exactly 
knowing what path to pursue, when I heard the sound of 
voices, that induced me to conceal myself under the shade 
of a cypress. I was scarcely hid, when a young girl came 
running towards the spot where I was concealed, laughing as 
if she ran from some one in sport. She continued her course 

Chapter VIII 155 

along the precipitous sides of the river, when suddenly her 
foot slipt, and she fell into the rapid stream. I rushed from 
my hiding place, and, with extreme labour from the force 
of the current, saved her, and dragged her to shore. She 
was senseless; and I endeavoured, by every means in my 
power, to restore animation, when I was suddenly interrupted 
by the approach of a rustic, who was probably the person 
from whom she had playfully fled. On seeing me, he darted 
towards me, and, tearing the girl from my arms, hastened 
towards the deeper parts of the wood. I followed speedily, 
I hardly knew why; but when the man saw me draw near, 
he aimed a gun, which he carried, at my body, and fired. I 
sunk to the ground, and my injurer, with increased swiftness, 
escaped into the wood. 

"This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had 
saved a human being from destruction, and, as a recom- 
pence, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound, 
which shattered the flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness 
and gentleness, which I had entertained but a few moments 
before, gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. 
Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to 
all mankind. But the agony of my wound overcame me; my 
pulses paused, and I fainted. 

"For some weeks I led a miserable life in the woods, 
endeavouring to cure the wound which I had received. The 
ball had entered my shoulder, and I knew not whether it 
had remained there or passed through; at any rate I had no 
means of extracting it. My sufferings were augmented also 
by the oppressive sense of the injustice and ingratitude of 
their infliction. My daily vows rose for revenge — a deep and 
deadly revenge, such as would alone compensate for the 
outrages and anguish I had endured. 

"After some weeks my wound healed, and I continued 

156 Chapter VIII 

my journey. The labours I endured were no longer to be 
alleviated by the bright sun or gentle breezes of spring; all 
joy was but a mockery which insulted my desolate state, 
and made me feel more painfully that I was not made for the 
enjoyment of pleasure. 

"But my toils now drew near a close; and, two months 
from this time, I reached the environs of Geneva. 

"It was evening when I arrived, and I retired to a hiding- 
place among the fields that surround it, to meditate in what 
manner I should apply to you. I was oppressed by fatigue 
and hunger, and far too unhappy to enjoy the gentle breezes 
of evening, or the prospect of the sun setting behind the 
stupendous mountains of Jura. 

"At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain of 
reflection, which was disturbed by the approach of a beautiful 
child, who came running into the recess I had chosen with 
all the sportiveness of infancy. Suddenly, as I gazed on him, 
an idea seized me, that this little creature was unprejudiced, 
and had lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of 
deformity. If, therefore, I could seize him, and educate him 
as my companion and friend, I should not be so desolate in 
this peopled earth. 

"Urged by this impulse, I seized on the boy as he passed, 
and drew him towards me. As soon as he beheld my form, he 
placed his hands before his eyes, and uttered a shrill scream: 
I drew his hand forcibly from his face, and said, 'Child, what 
is the meaning of this? I do not intend to hurt you; listen to 

"He struggled violently; 'Let me go,' he cried; 'monster! 
ugly wretch! you wish to eat me, and tear me to pieces — 
You are an ogre — Let me go, or I will tell my papa.' 

"'Boy, you will never see your father again; you must 
come with me.' 

Chapter VIII 157 

"'Hideous monster! let me go; My papa is a Syndic — 
he is M. Frankenstein — he would punish you. You dare not 
keep me.' 

" 'Frankenstein ! you belong then to my enemy — to him 
towards whom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be 
my first victim.' 

"The child still struggled, and loaded me with epithets 
which carried despair to my heart: I grasped his throat to 
silence him, and in a moment he lay dead at my feet. 

"I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exul- 
tation and hellish triumph: clapping my hands, I exclaimed, 
'I, too, can create desolation; my enemy is not impregnable; 
this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand other 
miseries shall torment and destroy him.' 

"As I fixed my eyes on the child, I saw something glittering 
on his breast. I took it; it was a portrait of a most lovely 
woman. In spite of my malignity, it softened and attracted me. 
For a few moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, 
fringed by deep lashes, and her lovely lips; but presently my 
rage returned: I remembered that I was for ever deprived 
of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow; 
and that she whose resemblance I contemplated would, in 
regarding me, have changed that air of divine benignity to 
one expressive of disgust and affright. 

"Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with 
rage? I only wonder that at that moment, instead of venting 
my sensations in exclamations and agony, I did not rush 
among mankind, and perish in the attempt to destroy them. 

"While I was overcome by these feelings, I left the spot 
where I had committed the murder, and was seeking a more 
secluded hiding-place, when I perceived a woman passing 
near me. She was young, not indeed so beautiful as her 
whose portrait I held, but of an agreeable aspect, and bloom- 

158 Chapter VIII 

ing in the loveliness of youth and health. Here, I thought, 
is one of those whose smiles are bestowed on all but me; 
she shall not escape: thanks to the lessons of Felix, and the 
sanguinary laws of man, I have learned how to work mis- 
chief. I approached her unperceived, and placed the portrait 
securely in one of the folds of her dress. 

"For some days I haunted the spot where these scenes 
had taken place; sometimes wishing to see you, some- 
times resolved to quit the world and its miseries for ever. 
At length I wandered towards these mountains, and have 
ranged through their immense recesses, consumed by a 
burning passion which you alone can gratify. We may not 
part until you have promised to comply with my requisition. 
I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; 
but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny 
herself to me. My companion must be of the same species, 
and have the same defects. This being you must create." 

Chapter IX 

The being finished speaking, and fixed his looks upon me in 
expectation of a reply. But I was bewildered, perplexed, and 
unable to arrange my ideas sufficiently to understand the full 
extent of his proposition. He continued — 

"You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in 
the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. 
This you alone can do; and I demand it of you as a right 
which you must not refuse." 

The latter part of his tale had kindled anew in me the 
anger that had died away while he narrated his peaceful life 
among the cottagers, and, as he said this, I could no longer 
suppress the rage that burned within me. 

"I do refuse it," I replied; "and no torture shall ever extort 
a consent from me. You may render me the most miserable 
of men, but you shall never make me base in my own eyes. 
Shall I create another like yourself, whose joint wickedness 
might desolate the world. Begone! I have answered you; you 
may torture me, but I will never consent." 

"You are in the wrong," replied the fiend; "and, instead of 
threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious 
because I am miserable; am I not shunned and hated by 
all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces, 


1 60 Chapter IX 

and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity 
man more than he pities me? You would not call it murder, 
if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts, and 
destroy my frame, the work of your own hands. Shall I 
respect man, when he contemns me? Let him live with 
me in the interchange of kindness, and, instead of injury, I 
would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude 
at his acceptance. But that cannot be; the human senses 
are insurmountable barriers to our union. Yet mine shall 
not be the submission of abject slavery. I will revenge my 
injuries: if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear; and chiefly 
towards you my arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear 
inextinguishable hatred. Have a care: I will work at your 
destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you 
curse the hour of your birth." 

A fiendish rage animated him as he said this; his face 
was wrinkled into contortions too horrible for human eyes to 
behold; but presently he calmed himself, and proceeded — 

"I intended to reason. This passion is detrimental to me; 
for you do not reflect that you are the cause of its excess. If 
any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me, I should 
return them an hundred and an hundred fold; for that one 
creature's sake, I would make peace with the whole kind! 
But I now indulge in dreams of bliss that cannot be realized. 
What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand 
a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself: the 
gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive, and it shall 
content me. It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all 
the world; but on that account we shall be more attached 
to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will 
be harmless, and free from the misery I now feel. Oh! my 
creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you 
for one benefit! Let me see that I excite the sympathy of 

Chapter IX 161 

some existing thing; do not deny me my request!" 

I was moved. I shuddered when I thought of the possible 
consequences of my consent; but I felt that there was some 
justice in his argument. His tale, and the feelings he now ex- 
pressed, proved him to be a creature of fine sensations; and 
did I not, as his maker, owe him all the portion of happiness 
that it was in my power to bestow? He saw my change of 
feeling, and continued — 

"If you consent, neither you nor any other human being 
shall ever see us again: I will go to the vast wilds of South 
America. My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb 
and the kid, to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me 
sufficient nourishment. My companion will be of the same 
nature as myself, and will be content with the same fare. We 
shall make our bed of dried leaves; the sun will shine on us 
as on man, and will ripen our food. The picture I present to 
you is peaceful and human, and you must feel that you could 
deny it only in the wantonness of power and cruelty. Pitiless 
as you have been towards me, I now see compassion in your 
eyes: let me seize the favourable moment, and persuade 
you to promise what I so ardently desire." 

"You propose," replied I, "to fly from the habitations of 
man, to dwell in those wilds where the beasts of the field 
will be your only companions. How can you, who long for 
the love and sympathy of man, persevere in this exile? You 
will return, and again seek their kindness, and you will meet 
with their detestation; your evil passions will be renewed, 
and you will then have a companion to aid you in the task of 
destruction. This may not be; cease to argue the point, for I 
cannot consent." 

"How inconstant are your feelings! but a moment ago you 
were moved by my representations, and why do you again 
harden yourself to my complaints? I swear to you, by the 

1 62 Chapter IX 

earth which I inhabit, and by you that made me, that, with 
the companion you bestow, I will quit the neighbourhood of 
man, and dwell, as it may chance, in the most savage of 
places. My evil passions will have fled, for I shall meet with 
sympathy; my life will flow quietly away, and, in my dying 
moments, I shall not curse my maker." 

His words had a strange effect upon me. I compassion- 
ated him, and sometimes felt a wish to console him; but 
when I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass that 
moved and talked, my heart sickened, and my feelings were 
altered to those of horror and hatred. I tried to stifle these 
sensations; I thought, that as I could not sympathize with 
him, I had no right to withhold from him the small portion of 
happiness which was yet in my power to bestow. 

"You swear," I said, "to be harmless; but have you not 
already shewn a degree of malice that should reasonably 
make me distrust you? May not even this be a feint that will 
increase your triumph by affording a wider scope for your 

"How is this? I thought I had moved your compassion, 
and yet you still refuse to bestow on me the only benefit that 
can soften my heart, and render me harmless. If I have no 
ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion; 
the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes, and 
I shall become a thing, of whose existence every one will 
be ignorant. My vices are the children of a forced solitude 
that I abhor; and my virtues will necessarily arise when I live 
in communion with an equal. I shall feel the affections of a 
sensitive being, and become linked to the chain of existence 
and events, from which I am now excluded." 

I paused some time to reflect on all he had related, and 
the various arguments which he had employed. I thought 
of the promise of virtues which he had displayed on the 

Chapter IX 163 

opening of his existence, and the subsequent blight of all 
kindly feeling by the loathing and scorn which his protectors 
had manifested towards him. His power and threats were 
not omitted in my calculations: a creature who could exist in 
the ice caves of the glaciers, and hide himself from pursuit 
among the ridges of inaccessible precipices, was a being 
possessing faculties it would be vain to cope with. After a 
long pause of reflection, I concluded, that the justice due 
both to him and my fellow-creatures demanded of me that I 
should comply with his request. Turning to him, therefore, I 
said — 

"I consent to your demand, on your solemn oath to quit 
Europe for ever, and every other place in the neighbourhood 
of man, as soon as I shall deliver into your hands a female 
who will accompany you in your exile." 

"I swear," he cried, "by the sun, and by the blue sky of 
heaven, that if you grant my prayer, while they exist you 
shall never behold me again. Depart to your home, and 
commence your labours: I shall watch their progress with 
unutterable anxiety; and fear not but that when you are ready 
I shall appear." 

Saying this, he suddenly quitted me, fearful, perhaps, 
of any change in my sentiments. I saw him descend the 
mountain with greater speed than the flight of an eagle, and 
quickly lost him among the undulations of the sea of ice. 

His tale had occupied the whole day; and the sun was 
upon the verge of the horizon when he departed. I knew 
that I ought to hasten my descent towards the valley, as I 
should soon be encompassed in darkness; but my heart was 
heavy, and my steps slow. The labour of winding among the 
little paths of the mountains, and fixing my feet firmly as I 
advanced, perplexed me, occupied as I was by the emotions 
which the occurrences of the day had produced. Night was 

164 Chapter IX 

far advanced, when I came to the half-way resting-place, 
and seated myself beside the fountain. The stars shone at 
intervals, as the clouds passed from over them; the dark 
pines rose before me, and every here and there a broken 
tree lay on the ground: it was a scene of wonderful solemnity, 
and stirred strange thoughts within me. I wept bitterly; and, 
clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, "Oh! stars, and 
clouds, and winds, ye are all about to mock me: if ye really 
pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as 
nought; but if not, depart, depart and leave me in darkness." 

These were wild and miserable thoughts; but I cannot 
describe to you how the eternal twinkling of the stars weighed 
upon me, and how I listened to every blast of wind, as if it 
were a dull ugly siroc on its way to consume me. 

Morning dawned before I arrived at the village of Ch- 
amounix; but my presence, so haggard and strange, hardly 
calmed the fears of my family, who had waited the whole 
night in anxious expectation of my return. 

The following day we returned to Geneva. The intention 
of my father in coming had been to divert my mind, and 
to restore me to my lost tranquillity; but the medicine had 
been fatal. And, unable to account for the excess of misery 
I appeared to suffer, he hastened to return home, hoping 
the quiet and monotony of a domestic life would by degrees 
alleviate my sufferings from whatsoever cause they might 

For myself, I was passive in all their arrangements; and 
the gentle affection of my beloved Elizabeth was inadequate 
to draw me from the depth of my despair. The promise I had 
made to the daemon weighed upon my mind, like Dante's 
iron cowl on the heads of the hellish hypocrites. All pleasures 
of earth and sky passed before me like a dream, and that 
thought only had to me the reality of life. Can you wonder, 

Chapter IX 1 65 

that sometimes a kind of insanity possessed me, or that I saw 
continually about me a multitude of filthy animals inflicting on 
me incessant torture, that often extorted screams and bitter 

By degrees, however, these feelings became calmed. I 
entered again into the every-day scene of life, if not with 
interest, at least with some degree of tranquillity. 

1 66 Chapter IX 



Chapter I 

Day after day, week after week, passed away on my return 
to Geneva; and I could not collect the courage to recom- 
mence my work. I feared the vengeance of the disappointed 
fiend, yet I was unable to overcome my repugnance to the 
task which was enjoined me. I found that I could not com- 
pose a female without again devoting several months to 
profound study and laborious disquisition. I had heard of 
some discoveries having been made by an English philoso- 
pher, the knowledge of which was material to my success, 
and I sometimes thought of obtaining my father's consent to 
visit England for this purpose; but I clung to every pretence of 
delay, and could not resolve to interrupt my returning tranquil- 
lity. My health, which had hitherto declined, was now much 
restored; and my spirits, when unchecked by the memory of 
my unhappy promise, rose proportionably. My father saw this 
change with pleasure, and he turned his thoughts towards 
the best method of eradicating the remains of my melancholy, 
which every now and then would return by fits, and with a 
devouring blackness overcast the approaching sunshine. At 
these moments I took refuge in the most perfect solitude. I 
passed whole days on the lake alone in a little boat, watching 
the clouds, and listening to the rippling of the waves, silent 


170 Chapter I 

and listless. But the fresh air and bright sun seldom failed to 
restore me to some degree of composure; and, on my return, 
I met the salutations of my friends with a readier smile and a 
more cheerful heart. 

It was after my return from one of these rambles that my 
father, calling me aside, thus addressed me: — 

"I am happy to remark, my dear son, that you have re- 
sumed your former pleasures, and seem to be returning to 
yourself. And yet you are still unhappy, and still avoid our 
society. For some time I was lost in conjecture as to the 
cause of this; but yesterday an idea struck me, and if it is 
well founded, I conjure you to avow it. Reserve on such a 
point would be not only useless, but draw down treble misery 
on us all." 

I trembled violently at this exordium, and my father con- 
tinued — 

"I confess, my son, that I have always looked forward to 
your marriage with your cousin as the tie of our domestic 
comfort, and the stay of my declining years. You were at- 
tached to each other from your earliest infancy; you studied 
together, and appeared, in dispositions and tastes, entirely 
suited to one another. But so blind is the experience of man, 
that what I conceived to be the best assistants to my plan 
may have entirely destroyed it. You, perhaps, regard her as 
your sister, without any wish that she might become your wife. 
Nay, you may have met with another whom you may love; 
and, considering yourself as bound in honour to your cousin, 
this struggle may occasion the poignant misery which you 
appear to feel." 

"My dear father, re-assure yourself. I love my cousin 
tenderly and sincerely. I never saw any woman who excited, 
as Elizabeth does, my warmest admiration and affection. 
My future hopes and prospects are entirely bound up in the 

Chapter I 171 

expectation of our union." 

"The expression of your sentiments on this subject, my 
dear Victor, gives me more pleasure than I have for some 
time experienced. If you feel thus, we shall assuredly be 
happy, however present events may cast a gloom over us. 
But it is this gloom, which appears to have taken so strong a 
hold of your mind, that I wish to dissipate. Tell me, therefore, 
whether you object to an immediate solemnization of the 
marriage. We have been unfortunate, and recent events 
have drawn us from that every-day tranquillity befitting my 
years and infirmities. You are younger; yet I do not suppose, 
possessed as you are of a competent fortune, that an early 
marriage would at all interfere with any future plans of hon- 
our and utility that you may have formed. Do not suppose, 
however, that I wish to dictate happiness to you, or that a 
delay on your part would cause me any serious uneasiness. 
Interpret my words with candour, and answer me, I conjure 
you, with confidence and sincerity." 

I listened to my father in silence, and remained for some 
time incapable of offering any reply. I revolved rapidly in my 
mind a multitude of thoughts, and endeavoured to arrive at 
some conclusion. Alas! to me the idea of an immediate 
union with my cousin was one of horror and dismay. I was 
bound by a solemn promise, which I had not yet fulfilled, 
and dared not break; or, if I did, what manifold miseries 
might not impend over me and my devoted family! Could I 
enter into a festival with this deadly weight yet hanging round 
my neck, and bowing me to the ground. I must perform 
my engagement, and let the monster depart with his mate, 
before I allowed myself to enjoy the delight of an union from 
which I expected peace. 

I remembered also the necessity imposed upon me of 
either journeying to England, or entering into a long corre- 

1 72 Chapter I 

spondence with those philosophers of that country, whose 
knowledge and discoveries were of indispensable use to me 
in my present undertaking. The latter method of obtaining the 
desired intelligence was dilatory and unsatisfactory: besides, 
any variation was agreeable to me, and I was delighted with 
the idea of spending a year or two in change of scene and 
variety of occupation, in absence from my family; during 
which period some event might happen which would restore 
me to them in peace and happiness: my promise might be 
fulfilled, and the monster have departed; or some accident 
might occur to destroy him, and put an end to my slavery for 

These feelings dictated my answer to my father. I ex- 
pressed a wish to visit England; but, concealing the true 
reasons of this request, I clothed my desires under the guise 
of wishing to travel and see the world before I sat down for 
life within the walls of my native town. 

I urged my entreaty with earnestness, and my father 
was easily induced to comply; for a more indulgent and less 
dictatorial parent did not exist upon earth. Our plan was 
soon arranged. I should travel to Strasburgh, where Clerval 
would join me. Some short time would be spent in the towns 
of Holland, and our principal stay would be in England. We 
should return by France; and it was agreed that the tour 
should occupy the space of two years. 

My father pleased himself with the reflection, that my 
union with Elizabeth should take place immediately on my 
return to Geneva. "These two years," said be, "will pass 
swiftly, and it will be the last delay that will oppose itself to 
your happiness. And, indeed, I earnestly desire that period 
to arrive, when we shall all be united, and neither hopes or 
fears arise to disturb our domestic calm." 

"I am content," I replied, "with your arrangement. By that 

Chapter I 1 73 

time we shall both have become wiser, and I hope happier, 
than we at present are." I sighed; but my father kindly forbore 
to question me further concerning the cause of my dejection. 
He hoped that new scenes, and the amusement of travelling, 
would restore my tranquillity. 

I now made arrangements for my journey; but one feeling 
haunted me, which filled me with fear and agitation. During 
my absence I should leave my friends unconscious of the 
existence of their enemy, and unprotected from his attacks, 
exasperated as he might be by my departure. But he had 
promised to follow me wherever I might go; and would he not 
accompany me to England? This imagination was dreadful in 
itself, but soothing, inasmuch as it supposed the safety of my 
friends. I was agonized with the idea of the possibility that the 
reverse of this might happen. But through the whole period 
during which I was the slave of my creature, I allowed myself 
to be governed by the impulses of the moment; and my 
present sensations strongly intimated that the fiend would 
follow me, and exempt my family from the danger of his 

It was in the latter end of August that I departed, to pass 
two years of exile. Elizabeth approved of the reasons of my 
departure, and only regretted that she had not the same 
opportunities of enlarging her experience, and cultivating her 
understanding. She wept, however, as she bade me farewell, 
and entreated me to return happy and tranquil. "We all," said 
she, "depend upon you; and if you are miserable, what must 
be our feelings?" 

I threw myself into the carriage that was to convey me 
away, hardly knowing whither I was going, and careless 
of what was passing around. I remembered only, and it 
was with a bitter anguish that I reflected on it, to order that 
my chemical instruments should be packed to go with me: 

174 Chapter I 

for I resolved to fulfil my promise while abroad, and return, 
if possible, a free man. Filled with dreary imaginations, I 
passed through many beautiful and majestic scenes; but my 
eyes were fixed and unobserving. I could only think of the 
bourne of my travels, and the work which was to occupy me 
whilst they endured. 

After some days spent in listless indolence, during which 
I traversed many leagues, I arrived at Strasburgh, where I 
waited two days for Clerval. He came. Alas, how great was 
the contrast between us! He was alive to every new scene; 
joyful when he saw the beauties of the setting sun, and more 
happy when he beheld it rise, and recommence a new day. 
He pointed out to me the shifting colours of the landscape, 
and the appearances of the sky. "This is what it is to live;" he 
cried, "now I enjoy existence! But you, my dear Frankenstein, 
wherefore are you desponding and sorrowful?" In truth, I was 
occupied by gloomy thoughts, and neither saw the descent 
of the evening star, nor the golden sun-rise reflected in the 
Rhine. — And you, my friend, would be far more amused 
with the journal of Clerval, who observed the scenery with 
an eye of feeling and delight, than to listen to my reflections. 
I, a miserable wretch, haunted by a curse that shut up every 
avenue to enjoyment. 

We had agreed to descend the Rhine in a boat from 
Strasburgh to Rotterdam, whence we might take shipping 
for London. During this voyage, we passed by many wil- 
lowy islands, and saw several beautiful towns. We staid a 
day at Manheim, and, on the fifth from our departure from 
Strasburgh, arrived at Mayence. The course of the Rhine 
below Mayence becomes much more picturesque. The river 
descends rapidly, and winds between hills, not high, but 
steep, and of beautiful forms. We saw many ruined castles 
standing on the edges of precipices, surrounded by black 

Chapter I 1 75 

woods, high and inaccessible. This part of the Rhine, indeed, 
presents a singularly variegated landscape. In one spot you 
view rugged hills, ruined castles overlooking tremendous 
precipices, with the dark Rhine rushing beneath; and, on 
the sudden turn of a promontory, flourishing vineyards, with 
green sloping banks, and a meandering river, and populous 
towns, occupy the scene. 

We travelled at the time of the vintage, and heard the 
song of the labourers, as we glided down the stream. Even 
I, depressed in mind, and my spirits continually agitated by 
gloomy feelings, even I was pleased. I lay at the bottom 
of the boat, and, as I gazed on the cloudless blue sky, I 
seemed to drink in a tranquillity to which I had long been a 
stranger. And if these were my sensations, who can describe 
those of Henry? He felt as if he had been transported to 
Fairy-land, and enjoyed a happiness seldom tasted by man. 
"I have seen," he said, "the most beautiful scenes of my own 
country; I have visited the lakes of Lucerne and Uri, where 
the snowy mountains descend almost perpendicularly to the 
water, casting black and impenetrable shades, which would 
cause a gloomy and mournful appearance, were it not for 
the most verdant islands that relieve the eye by their gay 
appearance; I have seen this lake agitated by a tempest, 
when the wind tore up whirlwinds of water, and gave you an 
idea of what the water-spout must be on the great ocean, and 
the waves dash with fury the base of the mountain, where the 
priest and his mistress were overwhelmed by an avalanche, 
and where their dying voices are still said to be heard amid 
the pauses of the nightly wind; I have seen the mountains 
of La Valais, and the Pays de Vaud: but this country, Victor, 
pleases me more than all those wonders. The mountains of 
Switzerland are more majestic and strange; but there is a 
charm in the banks of this divine river, that I never before saw 

176 Chapter I 

equalled. Look at that castle which overhangs yon precipice; 
and that also on the island, almost concealed amongst the 
foliage of those lovely trees; and now that group of labourers 
coming from among their vines; and that village half-hid in 
the recess of the mountain. Oh, surely, the spirit that inhabits 
and guards this place has a soul more in harmony with man, 
than those who pile the glacier, or retire to the inaccessible 
peaks of the mountains of our own country." 

Clerval! beloved friend! even now it delights me to record 
your words, and to dwell on the praise of which you are so 
eminently deserving. He was a being formed in the "very 
poetry of nature." His wild and enthusiastic imagination was 
chastened by the sensibility of his heart. His soul overflowed 
with ardent affections, and his friendship was of that devoted 
and wondrous nature that the worldly-minded teach us to 
look for only in the imagination. But even human sympathies 
were not sufficient to satisfy his eager mind. The scenery of 
external nature, which others regard only with admiration, he 
loved with ardour: 

"The sounding cataract 

Haunted him like a passion: the tall rock, 

The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, 

Their colours and their forms, were then to him 

An appetite; a feeling, and a love, 

That had no need of a remoter charm, 

By thought supplied, or any interest 

Unborrowed from the eye." 

And where does he now exist? Is this gentle and lovely 
being lost for ever? Has this mind so replete with ideas, 
imaginations fanciful and magnificent, which formed a world, 
whose existence depended on the life of its creator; has this 

Chapter I 1 77 

mind perished? Does it now only exist in my memory? No, it 
is not thus; your form so divinely wrought, and beaming with 
beauty, has decayed, but your spirit still visits and consoles 
your unhappy friend. 

Pardon this gush of sorrow; these ineffectual words are 
but a slight tribute to the unexampled worth of Henry, but 
they soothe my heart, overflowing with the anguish which his 
remembrance creates. I will proceed with my tale. 

Beyond Cologne we descended to the plains of Holland; 
and we resolved to post the remainder of our way; for the 
wind was contrary, and the stream of the river was too gentle 
to aid us. 

Our journey here lost the interest arising from beautiful 
scenery; but we arrived in a few days at Rotterdam, whence 
we proceeded by sea to England. It was on a clear morning, 
in the latter days of December, that I first saw the white cliffs 
of Britain. The banks of the Thames presented a new scene; 
they were flat, but fertile, and almost every town was marked 
by the remembrance of some story. We saw Tilbury Fort, and 
remembered the Spanish armada; Gravesend, Woolwich, 
and Greenwich, places which I had heard of even in my 

At length we saw the numerous steeples of London, 
St. Paul's towering above all, and the Tower famed in English 

1 78 Chapter I 

Chapter II 

London was our present point of rest; we determined to 
remain several months in this wonderful and celebrated city. 
Clerval desired the intercourse of the men of genius and 
talent who flourished at this time; but this was with me a 
secondary object; I was principally occupied with the means 
of obtaining the information necessary for the completion 
of my promise, and quickly availed myself of the letters of 
introduction that I had brought with me, addressed to the 
most distinguished natural philosophers. 

If this journey had taken place during my days of study 
and happiness, it would have afforded me inexpressible plea- 
sure. But a blight had come over my existence, and I only 
visited these people for the sake of the information they 
might give me on the subject in which my interest was so 
terribly profound. Company was irksome to me; when alone, 
I could fill my mind with the sights of heaven and earth; the 
voice of Henry soothed me, and I could thus cheat myself 
into a transitory peace. But busy uninteresting joyous faces 
brought back despair to my heart. I saw an insurmountable 
barrier placed between me and my fellow-men; this barrier 
was sealed with the blood of William and Justine; and to 
reflect on the events connected with those names filled my 
soul with anguish. 


1 80 Chapter II 

But in Clerval I saw the image of my former self; he was 
inquisitive, and anxious to gain experience and instruction. 
The difference of manners which he observed was to him 
an inexhaustible source of instruction and amusement. He 
was for ever busy; and the only check to his enjoyments 
was my sorrowful and dejected mien. I tried to conceal this 
as much as possible, that I might not debar him from the 
pleasures natural to one who was entering on a new scene 
of life, undisturbed by any care or bitter recollection. I often 
refused to accompany him, alleging another engagement, 
that I might remain alone. I now also began to collect the 
materials necessary for my new creation, and this was to 
me like the torture of single drops of water continually falling 
on the head. Every thought that was devoted to it was an 
extreme anguish, and every word that I spoke in allusion to 
it caused my lips to quiver, and my heart to palpitate. 

After passing some months in London, we received a 
letter from a person in Scotland, who had formerly been our 
visitor at Geneva. He mentioned the beauties of his native 
country, and asked us if those were not sufficient allurements 
to induce us to prolong our journey as far north as Perth, 
where he resided. Clerval eagerly desired to accept this 
invitation; and I, although I abhorred society, wished to view 
again mountains and streams, and all the wondrous works 
with which Nature adorns her chosen dwelling-places. 

We had arrived in England at the beginning of October, 
and it was now February. We accordingly determined to 
commence our journey towards the north at the expiration of 
another month. In this expedition we did not intend to follow 
the great road to Edinburgh, but to visit Windsor, Oxford, 
Matlock, and the Cumberland lakes, resolving to arrive at 
the completion of this tour about the end of July. I packed 
my chemical instruments, and the materials I had collected, 

Chapter II 181 

resolving to finish my labours in some obscure nook in the 
northern highlands of Scotland. 

We quitted London on the 27th of March, and remained 
a few days at Windsor, rambling in its beautiful forest. This 
was a new scene to us mountaineers; the majestic oaks, 
the quantity of game, and the herds of stately deer, were all 
novelties to us. 

From thence we proceeded to Oxford. As we entered 
this city, our minds were filled with the remembrance of the 
events that had been transacted there more than a century 
and a half before. It was here that Charles I. had collected 
his forces. This city had remained faithful to him, after the 
whole nation had forsaken his cause to join the standard 
of parliament and liberty. The memory of that unfortunate 
king, and his companions, the amiable Falkland, the insolent 
Gower, his queen, and son, gave a peculiar interest to ev- 
ery part of the city, which they might be supposed to have 
inhabited. The spirit of elder days found a dwelling here, and 
we delighted to trace its footsteps. If these feelings had not 
found an imaginary gratification, the appearance of the city 
had yet in itself sufficient beauty to obtain our admiration. 
The colleges are ancient and picturesque; the streets are 
almost magnificent; and the lovely Isis, which flows beside it 
through meadows of exquisite verdure, is spread forth into a 
placid expanse of waters, which reflects its majestic assem- 
blage of towers, and spires, and domes, embosomed among 
aged trees. 

I enjoyed this scene; and yet my enjoyment was embit- 
tered both by the memory of the past, and the anticipation 
of the future. I was formed for peaceful happiness. During 
my youthful days discontent never visited my mind; and if I 
was ever overcome by ennui, the sight of what is beautiful 
in nature, or the study of what is excellent and sublime in 

1 82 Chapter II 

the productions of man, could always interest my heart, and 
communicate elasticity to my spirits. But I am a blasted tree; 
the bolt has entered my soul; and I felt then that I should 
survive to exhibit, what I shall soon cease to be — a miser- 
able spectacle of wrecked humanity, pitiable to others, and 
abhorrent to myself. 

We passed a considerable period at Oxford, rambling 
among its environs, and endeavouring to identify every spot 
which might relate to the most animating epoch of English 
history. Our little voyages of discovery were often prolonged 
by the successive objects that presented themselves. We 
visited the tomb of the illustrious Hampden, and the field on 
which that patriot fell. For a moment my soul was elevated 
from its debasing and miserable fears to contemplate the 
divine ideas of liberty and self-sacrifice, of which these sights 
were the monuments and the remembrancers. For an instant 
I dared to shake off my chains, and look around me with a 
free and lofty spirit; but the iron had eaten into my flesh, and 
I sank again, trembling and hopeless, into my miserable self. 

We left Oxford with regret, and proceeded to Matlock, 
which was our next place of rest. The country in the neigh- 
bourhood of this village resembled, to a greater degree, the 
scenery of Switzerland; but every thing is on a lower scale, 
and the green hills want the crown of distant white Alps, 
which always attend on the piny mountains of my native 
country. We visited the wondrous cave, and the little cab- 
inets of natural history, where the curiosities are disposed 
in the same manner as in the collections at Servox and 
Chamounix. The latter name made me tremble, when pro- 
nounced by Henry; and I hastened to quit Matlock, with which 
that terrible scene was thus associated. 

From Derby still journeying northward, we passed two 
months in Cumberland and Westmoreland. I could now al- 

Chapter II 1 83 

most fancy myself among the Swiss mountains. The little 
patches of snow which yet lingered on the northern sides 
of the mountains, the lakes, and the dashing of the rocky 
streams, were all familiar and dear sights to me. Here also 
we made some acquaintances, who almost contrived to 
cheat me into happiness. The delight of Clerval was pro- 
portionably greater than mine; his mind expanded in the 
company of men of talent, and he found in his own nature 
greater capacities and resources than he could have imag- 
ined himself to have possessed while he associated with his 
inferiors. "I could pass my life here," said he to me; "and 
among these mountains I should scarcely regret Switzerland 
and the Rhine." 

But he found that a traveller's life is one that includes 
much pain amidst its enjoyments. His feelings are for ever on 
the stretch; and when he begins to sink into repose, he finds 
himself obliged to quit that on which he rests in pleasure 
for something new, which again engages his attention, and 
which also he forsakes for other novelties. 

We had scarcely visited the various lakes of Cumberland 
and Westmoreland, and conceived an affection for some of 
the inhabitants, when the period of our appointment with 
our Scotch friend approached, and we left them to travel 
on. For my own part I was not sorry. I had now neglected 
my promise for some time, and I feared the effects of the 
daemon's disappointment. He might remain in Switzerland, 
and wreak his vengeance on my relatives. This idea pursued 
me, and tormented me at every moment from which I might 
otherwise have snatched repose and peace. I waited for 
my letters with feverish impatience: if they were delayed, 
I was miserable, and overcome by a thousand fears; and 
when they arrived, and I saw the superscription of Elizabeth 
or my father, I hardly dared to read and ascertain my fate. 

1 84 Chapter II 

Sometimes I thought that the fiend followed me, and might 
expedite my remissness by murdering my companion. When 
these thoughts possessed me, I would not quit Henry for a 
moment, but followed him as his shadow, to protect him from 
the fancied rage of his destroyer. I felt as if I had committed 
some great crime, the consciousness of which haunted me. 
I was guiltless, but I had indeed drawn down a horrible curse 
upon my head, as mortal as that of crime. 

I visited Edinburgh with languid eyes and mind; and yet 
that city might have interested the most unfortunate being. 
Clerval did not like it so well as Oxford; for the antiquity of the 
latter city was more pleasing to him. But the beauty and reg- 
ularity of the new town of Edinburgh, its romantic castle, and 
its environs, the most delightful in the world, Arthur's Seat, 
St. Bernard's Well, and the Pentland Hills, compensated him 
for the change, and filled him with cheerfulness and admira- 
tion. But I was impatient to arrive at the termination of my 

We left Edinburgh in a week, passing through Coupar, 
St. Andrews, and along the banks of the Tay, to Perth, where 
our friend expected us. But I was in no mood to laugh and 
talk with strangers, or enter into their feelings or plans with 
the good humour expected from a guest; and accordingly 
I told Clerval that I wished to make the tour of Scotland 
alone. "Do you," said I, "enjoy yourself, and let this be our 
rendezvous. I may be absent a month or two; but do not 
interfere with my motions, I entreat you: leave me to peace 
and solitude for a short time; and when I return, I hope it will 
be with a lighter heart, more congenial to your own temper." 

Henry wished to dissuade me; but, seeing me bent on 
this plan, ceased to remonstrate. He entreated me to write 
often. "I had rather be with you," he said, "in your solitary 
rambles, than with these Scotch people, whom I do not know: 

Chapter II 1 85 

hasten then, my dear friend, to return, that I may again 
feel myself somewhat at home, which I cannot do in your 

Having parted from my friend, I determined to visit some 
remote spot of Scotland, and finish my work in solitude. I 
did not doubt but that the monster followed me, and would 
discover himself to me when I should have finished, that he 
might receive his companion. 

With this resolution I traversed the northern highlands, 
and fixed on one of the remotest of the Orkneys as the 
scene labours. It was a place fitted for such a work, being 
hardly more than a rock, whose high sides were continually 
beaten upon by the waves. The soil was barren, scarcely 
affording pasture for a few miserable cows, and oatmeal 
for its inhabitants, which consisted of five persons, whose 
gaunt and scraggy limbs gave tokens of their miserable fare. 
Vegetables and bread, when they indulged in such luxuries, 
and even fresh water, was to be procured from the main land, 
which was about five miles distant. 

On the whole island there were but three miserable huts, 
and one of these was vacant when I arrived. This I hired. It 
contained but two rooms, and these exhibited all the squalid- 
ness of the most miserable penury. The thatch had fallen in, 
the walls were unplastered, and the door was off its hinges. 
I ordered it to be repaired, bought some furniture, and took 
possession; an incident which would, doubtless, have occa- 
sioned some surprise, had not all the senses of the cottagers 
been benumbed by want and squalid poverty. As it was, I 
lived ungazed at and unmolested, hardly thanked for the 
pittance of food and clothes which I gave; so much does 
suffering blunt even the coarsest sensations of men. 

In this retreat I devoted the morning to labour; but in the 
evening, when the weather permitted, I walked on the stony 

1 86 Chapter II 

beach of the sea, to listen to the waves as they roared, and 
dashed at my feet. It was a monotonous, yet ever-changing 
scene. I thought of Switzerland; it was far different from this 
desolate and appalling landscape. Its hills are covered with 
vines, and its cottages are scattered thickly in the plains. Its 
fair lakes reflect a blue and gentle sky; and, when troubled 
by the winds, their tumult is but as the play of a lively infant, 
when compared to the roarings of the giant ocean. 

In this manner I distributed my occupations when I first 
arrived; but, as I proceeded in my labour, it became every 
day more horrible and irksome to me. Sometimes I could not 
prevail on myself to enter my laboratory for several days; and 
at other times I toiled day and night in order to complete my 
work. It was indeed a filthy process in which I was engaged. 
During my first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had 
blinded me to the horror of my employment; my mind was 
intently fixed on the sequel of my labour, and my eyes were 
shut to the horror of my proceedings. But now I went to it in 
cold blood, and my heart often sickened at the work of my 

Thus situated, employed in the most detestable occu- 
pation, immersed in a solitude where nothing could for an 
instant call my attention from the actual scene in which I 
was engaged, my spirits became unequal; I grew restless 
and nervous. Every moment I feared to meet my persecutor. 
Sometimes I sat with my eyes fixed on the ground, fearing to 
raise them lest they should encounter the object which I so 
much dreaded to behold. I feared to wander from the sight 
of my fellow-creatures, lest when alone he should come to 
claim his companion. 

In the mean time I worked on, and my labour was already 
considerably advanced. I looked towards its completion with 
a tremulous and eager hope, which I dared not trust myself to 

Chapter II 187 

question, but which was intermixed with obscure forebodings 
of evil, that made my heart sicken in my bosom. 

1 88 Chapter II 


I sat one evening in my laboratory; the sun had set, and 
the moon was just rising from the sea; I had not sufficient 
light for my employment, and I remained idle, in a pause of 
consideration of whether I should leave my labour for the 
night, or hasten its conclusion by an unremitting attention to 
it. As I sat, a train of reflection occurred to me, which led 
me to consider the effects of what I was now doing. Three 
years before I was engaged in the same manner, and had 
created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had desolated 
my heart, and filled it for ever with the bitterest remorse. I 
was now about to form another being, of whose dispositions 
I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times 
more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, 
in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the 
neighbourhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she 
had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a 
thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with 
a compact made before her creation. They might even hate 
each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own 
deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorence for 
it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also 
might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of 


1 90 Chapter III 

man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated 
by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own 

Even if they were to leave Europe, and inhabit the deserts 
of the new world, yet one of the first results of those sympa- 
thies for which the daemon thirsted would be children, and 
a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth, who 
might make the very existence of the species of man a con- 
dition precarious and full of terror. Had I a right, for my own 
benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? I 
had before been moved by the sophisms of the being I had 
created; I had been struck senseless by his fiendish threats: 
but now, for the first time, the wickedness of my promise 
burst upon me; I shuddered to think that future ages might 
curse me as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated 
to buy its own peace at the price perhaps of the existence of 
the whole human race. 

I trembled, and my heart failed within me; when, on 
looking up, I saw, by the light of the moon, the daemon at 
the casement. A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed 
on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to 
me. Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered 
in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and 
desert heaths; and he now came to mark my progress, and 
claim the fulfilment of my promise. 

As I looked on him, his countenance expressed the ut- 
most extent of malice and treachery. I thought with a sensa- 
tion of madness on my promise of creating another like to 
him, and, trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on 
which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the crea- 
ture on whose future existence he depended for happiness, 
and, with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew. 

I left the room, and, locking the door, made a solemn vow 

Chapter III 191 

in my own heart never to resume my labours; and then, with 
trembling steps, I sought my own apartment. I was alone; 
none were near me to dissipate the gloom, and relieve me 
from the sickening oppression of the most terrible reveries. 

Several hours past, and I remained near my window gaz- 
ing on the sea; it was almost motionless, for the winds were 
hushed, and all nature reposed under the eye of the quiet 
moon. A few fishing vessels alone specked the water, and 
now and then the gentle breeze wafted the sound of voices, 
as the fishermen called to one another. I felt the silence, 
although I was hardly conscious of its extreme profundity 
until my ear was suddenly arrested by the paddling of oars 
near the shore, and a person landed close to my house. 

In a few minutes after, I heard the creaking of my door, 
as if some one endeavoured to open it softly. I trembled 
from head to foot; I felt a presentiment of who it was, and 
wished to rouse one of the peasants who dwelt in a cottage 
not far from mine; but I was overcome by the sensation of 
helplessness, so often felt in frightful dreams, when you in 
vain endeavour to fly from an impending danger, and was 
rooted to the spot. 

Presently I heard the sound of footsteps along the pas- 
sage; the door opened, and the wretch whom I dreaded 
appeared. Shutting the door, he approached me, and said, 
in a smothered voice — 

"You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it 
that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have 
endured toil and misery: I left Switzerland with you; I crept 
along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands, and 
over the summits of its hills. I have dwelt many months in 
the heaths of England, and among the deserts of Scotland. I 
have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do 
you dare destroy my hopes?" 

192 Chapter III 

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create 
another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness." 

"Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved 
yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I 
have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make 
you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. 
You are my creator, but I am your master; — obey!" 

"The hour of my weakness is past, and the period of your 
power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act 
of wickedness; but they confirm me in a resolution of not 
creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set 
loose upon the earth a daemon, whose delight is in death 
and wretchedness. Begone! I am firm, and your words will 
only exasperate my rage." 

The monster saw my determination in my face, and 
gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each 
man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast 
have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, 
and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man, you 
may hate; but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and 
misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from 
you your happiness for ever. Are you to be happy, while I 
grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my 
other passions; but revenge remains — revenge, henceforth 
dearer than light or food! I may die; but first you, my tyrant 
and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. 
Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. I will watch 
with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. 
Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict." 

"Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds 
of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no 
coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable." 

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your 

Chapter III 193 


I started forward, and exclaimed, "Villain! before you sign 
my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe." 

I would have seized him; but he eluded me, and quitted 
the house with precipitation: in a few moments I saw him 
in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy 
swiftness, and was soon lost amidst the waves. 

All was again silent; but his words rung in my ears. I 
burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace, and 
precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my 
room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured 
up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I 
not followed him, and closed with him in mortal strife? But I 
had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course 
towards the main land. I shuddered to think who might 
be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And 
then I thought again of his words — "/ will be with you on 
your wedding-night." That then was the period fixed for the 
fulfilment of my destiny. In that hour I should die, and at once 
satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move 
me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, — 
of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her 
lover so barbarously snatched from her, — tears, the first I 
had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I 
resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle. 

The night passed away, and the sun rose from the ocean; 
my feelings became calmer, if it may be called calmness, 
when the violence of rage sinks into the depths of despair. 
I left the house, the horrid scene of the last night's con- 
tention, and walked on the beach of the sea, which I almost 
regarded as an insuperable barrier between me and my 
fellow-creatures; nay, a wish that such should prove the fact 
stole across me. I desired that I might pass my life on that 

194 Chapter III 

barren rock, wearily it is true, but uninterrupted by any sud- 
den shock of misery. If I returned, it was to be sacrificed, 
or to see those whom I most loved die under the grasp of a 
daemon whom I had myself created. 

I walked about the isle like a restless spectre, separated 
from all it loved, and miserable in the separation. When it 
became noon, and the sun rose higher, I lay down on the 
grass, and was overpowered by a deep sleep. I had been 
awake the whole of the preceding night, my nerves were 
agitated, and my eyes inflamed by watching and misery. The 
sleep into which I now sunk refreshed me; and when I awoke, 
I again felt as if I belonged to a race of human beings like 
myself, and I began to reflect upon what had passed with 
greater composure; yet still the words of the fiend rung in 
my ears like a death-knell, they appeared like a dream, yet 
distinct and oppressive as a reality. 

The sun had far descended, and I still sat on the shore, 
satisfying my appetite, which had become ravenous, with an 
oaten cake, when I saw a fishing-boat land close to me, and 
one of the men brought me a packet; it contained letters from 
Geneva, and one from Clerval, entreating me to join him. He 
said that nearly a year had elapsed since we had quitted 
Switzerland, and France was yet unvisited. He entreated me, 
therefore, to leave my solitary isle, and meet him at Perth, in 
a week from that time, when we might arrange the plan of 
our future proceedings. This letter in a degree recalled me 
to life, and I determined to quit my island at the expiration of 
two days. 

Yet, before I departed, there was a task to perform, on 
which I shuddered to reflect: I must pack my chemical in- 
struments; and for that purpose I must enter the room which 
had been the scene of my odious work, and I must handle 
those utensils, the sight of which was sickening to me. The 

Chapter III 1 95 

next morning, at day-break, I summoned sufficient courage, 
and unlocked the door of my laboratory. The remains of the 
half-finished creature, whom I had destroyed, lay scattered 
on the floor, and I almost felt as if I had mangled the living 
flesh of a human being. I paused to collect myself, and then 
entered the chamber. With trembling hand I conveyed the 
instruments out of the room; but I reflected that I ought not to 
leave the relics of my work to excite the horror and suspicion 
of the peasants, and I accordingly put them into a basket, 
with a great quantity of stones, and laying them up, deter- 
mined to throw them into the sea that very night; and in the 
mean time I sat upon the beach, employed in cleaning and 
arranging my chemical apparatus. 

Nothing could be more complete than the alteration that 
had taken place in my feelings since the night of the appear- 
ance of the daemon. I had before regarded my promise with a 
gloomy despair, as a thing that, with whatever consequences, 
must be fulfilled; but I now felt as if a film had been taken 
from before my eyes, and that I, for the first time, saw clearly. 
The idea of renewing my labours did not for one instant occur 
to me; the threat I had heard weighed on my thoughts, but 
I did not reflect that a voluntary act of mine could avert it. I 
had resolved in my own mind, that to create another like the 
fiend I had first made would be an act of the basest and most 
atrocious selfishness; and I banished from my mind every 
thought that could lead to a different conclusion. 

Between two and three in the morning the moon rose; 
and I then, putting my basket aboard a little skiff, sailed out 
about four miles from the shore. The scene was perfectly 
solitary: a few boats were returning towards land, but I sailed 
away from them. I felt as if I was about the commission of 
a dreadful crime, and avoided with shuddering anxiety any 
encounter with my fellow-creatures. At one time the moon, 

1 96 Chapter III 

which had before been clear, was suddenly overspread by a 
thick cloud, and I took advantage of the moment of darkness, 
and cast my basket into the sea; I listened to the gurgling 
sound as it sunk, and then sailed away from the spot. The sky 
became clouded; but the air was pure, although chilled by the 
north-east breeze that was then rising. But it refreshed me, 
and filled me with such agreeable sensations, that I resolved 
to prolong my stay on the water, and fixing the rudder in a 
direct position, stretched myself at the bottom of the boat. 
Clouds hid the moon, every thing was obscure, and I heard 
only the sound of the boat, as its keel cut through the waves; 
the murmur lulled me, and in a short time I slept soundly. 

I do not know how long I remained in this situation, but 
when I awoke I found that the sun had already mounted 
considerably. The wind was high, and the waves continually 
threatened the safety of my little skiff. I found that the wind 
was north-east, and must have driven me far from the coast 
from which I had embarked. I endeavoured to change my 
course, but quickly found that if I again made the attempt the 
boat would be instantly filled with water. Thus situated, my 
only resource was to drive before the wind. I confess that 
I felt a few sensations of terror. I had no compass with me, 
and was so little acquainted with the geography of this part 
of the world that the sun was of little benefit to me. I might 
be driven into the wide Atlantic, and feel all the tortures of 
starvation, or be swallowed up in the immeasurable waters 
that roared and buffeted around me. I had already been 
out many hours, and felt the torment of a burning thirst, a 
prelude to my other sufferings. I looked on the heavens, 
which were covered by clouds that flew before the wind only 
to be replaced by others: I looked upon the sea, it was to be 
my grave. "Fiend," I exclaimed, "your task is already fulfilled!" 
I thought of Elizabeth, of my father, and of Clerval; and sunk 

Chapter III 197 

into a reverie, so despairing and frightful, that even now, 
when the scene is on the point of closing before me for ever, 
I shudder to reflect on it. 

Some hours passed thus; but by degrees, as the sun 
declined towards the horizon, the wind died away into a 
gentle breeze, and the sea became free from breakers. But 
these gave place to a heavy swell; I felt sick, and hardly able 
to hold the rudder, when suddenly I saw a line of high land 
towards the south. 

Almost spent, as I was, by fatigue, and the dreadful sus- 
pense I endured for several hours, this sudden certainty of 
life rushed like a flood of warm joy to my heart, and tears 
gushed from my eyes. 

How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that 
clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery! I 
constructed another sail with a part of my dress, and eagerly 
steered my course towards the land. It had a wild and rocky 
appearance; but as I approached nearer, I easily perceived 
the traces of cultivation. I saw vessels near the shore, and 
found myself suddenly transported back to the neighbour- 
hood of civilized man. I eagerly traced the windings of the 
land, and hailed a steeple which I at length saw issuing from 
behind a small promontory. As I was in a state of extreme 
debility, I resolved to sail directly towards the town as a place 
where I could most easily procure nourishment. Fortunately I 
had money with me. As I turned the promontory, I perceived 
a small neat town and a good harbour, which I entered, my 
heart bounding with joy at my unexpected escape. 

As I was occupied in fixing the boat and arranging the 
sails, several people crowded towards the spot. They seem- 
ed very much surprised at my appearance; but, instead of 
offering me any assistance, whispered together with ges- 
tures that at any other time might have produced in me a 

1 98 Chapter III 

slight sensation of alarm. As it was, I merely remarked that 
they spoke English; and I therefore addressed them in that 
language: "My good friends," said I, "will you be so kind as to 
tell me the name of this town, and inform me where I am?" 

"You will know that soon enough," replied a man with a 
gruff voice. "May be you are come to a place that will not 
prove much to your taste; but you will not be consulted as to 
your quarters, I promise you." 

I was exceedingly surprised on receiving so rude an an- 
swer from a stranger; and I was also disconcerted on perceiv- 
ing the frowning and angry countenances of his companions. 
"Why do you answer me so roughly?" I replied: "surely it 
is not the custom of Englishmen to receive strangers so 

"I do not know," said the man, "what the custom of the 
English may be; but it is the custom of the Irish to hate 

While this strange dialogue continued, I perceived the 
crowd rapidly increase. Their faces expressed a mixture of 
curiosity and anger, which annoyed, and in some degree 
alarmed me. I inquired the way to the inn; but no one replied. 
I then moved forward, and a murmuring sound arose from 
the crowd as they followed and surrounded me; when an 
ill-looking man approaching, tapped me on the shoulder, and 
said, "Come, Sir, you must follow me to Mr. Kirwin's, to give 
an account of yourself." 

"Who is Mr. Kirwin? Why am I to give an account of 
myself? Is not this a free country?" 

"Aye, Sir, free enough for honest folks. Mr. Kirwin is a 
magistrate; and you are to give an account of the death of a 
gentleman who was found murdered here last night." 

This answer startled me; but I presently recovered myself. 
I was innocent; that could easily be proved: accordingly I 

Chapter III 1 99 

followed my conductor in silence, and was led to one of the 
best houses in the town. I was ready to sink from fatigue 
and hunger; but, being surrounded by a crowd, I thought it 
politic to rouse all my strength, that no physical debility might 
be construed into apprehension or conscious guilt. Little 
did I then expect the calamity that was in a few moments to 
overwhelm me, and extinguish in horror and despair all fear 
of ignominy or death. 

I must pause here; for it requires all my fortitude to recall 
the memory of the frightful events which I am about to relate, 
in proper detail, to my recollection. 

200 Chapter III 

Chapter IV 

I was soon introduced into the presence of the magistrate, 
an old benevolent man, with calm and mild manners. He 
looked upon me, however, with some degree of severity; 
and then, turning towards my conductors, he asked who 
appeared as witnesses on this occasion. 

About half a dozen men came forward; and one being 
selected by the magistrate, he deposed, that he had been 
out fishing the night before with his son and brother-in-law, 
Daniel Nugent, when, about ten o'clock, they observed a 
strong northerly blast rising, and they accordingly put in for 
port. It was a very dark night, as the moon had not yet 
risen; they did not land at the harbour, but, as they had been 
accustomed, at a creek about two miles below. He walked on 
first, carrying a part of the fishing tackle, and his companions 
followed him at some distance. As he was proceeding along 
the sands, he struck his foot against something, and fell all 
his length on the ground. His companions came up to assist 
him; and, by the light of their lantern, they found that he had 
fallen on the body of a man, who was to all appearance dead. 
Their first supposition was, that it was the corpse of some 
person who had been drowned, and was thrown on shore 
by the waves; but, upon examination, they found that the 


202 Chapter IV 

clothes were not wet, and even that the body was not then 
cold. They instantly carried it to the cottage of an old woman 
near the spot, and endeavoured, but in vain, to restore it to 
life. He appeared to be a handsome young man, about five 
and twenty years of age. He had apparently been strangled; 
for there was no sign of any violence, except the black mark 
of fingers on his neck. 

The first part of this deposition did not in the least inter- 
est me; but when the mark of the fingers was mentioned, I 
remembered the murder of my brother, and felt myself ex- 
tremely agitated; my limbs trembled, and a mist came over 
my eyes, which obliged me to lean on a chair for support. 
The magistrate observed me with a keen eye, and of course 
drew an unfavourable augury from my manner. 

The son confirmed his father's account: but when Daniel 
Nugent was called, he swore positively that, just before the 
fall of his companion, he saw a boat, with a single man in it, 
at a short distance from the shore; and, as far as he could 
judge by the light of a few stars, it was the same boat in 
which I had just landed. 

A woman deposed, that she lived near the beach, and 
was standing at the door of her cottage, waiting for the return 
of the fishermen, about an hour before she heard of the 
discovery of the body, when she saw a boat, with only one 
man in it, push off from that part of the shore where the 
corpse was afterwards found. 

Another woman confirmed the account of the fishermen 
having brought the body into her house; it was not cold. They 
put it into a bed, and rubbed it; and Daniel went to the town 
for an apothecary, but life was quite gone. 

Several other men were examined concerning my land- 
ing; and they agreed, that, with the strong north wind that 
had arisen during the night, it was very probable that I had 

Chapter IV 203 

beaten about for many hours, and had been obliged to return 
nearly to the same spot from which I had departed. Besides, 
they observed that it appeared that I had brought the body 
from another place, and it was likely, that as I did not appear 
to know the shore, I might have put into the harbour ignorant 

of the distance of the town of from the place where I 

had deposited the corpse. 

Mr. Kirwin, on hearing this evidence, desired that I should 
be taken into the room where the body lay for interment 
that it might be observed what effect the sight of it would 
produce upon me. This idea was probably suggested by 
the extreme agitation I had exhibited when the mode of the 
murder had been described. I was accordingly conducted, 
by the magistrate and several other persons, to the inn. I 
could not help being struck by the strange coincidences that 
had taken place during this eventful night; but, knowing that I 
had been conversing with several persons in the island I had 
inhabited about the time that the body had been found, I was 
perfectly tranquil as to the consequences of the affair. 

I entered the room where the corpse lay, and was led 
up to the coffin. How can I describe my sensations on be- 
holding it? I feel yet parched with horror, nor can I reflect 
on that terrible moment without shuddering and agony, that 
faintly reminds me of the anguish of the recognition. The 
trial, the presence of the magistrate and witnesses, passed 
like a dream from my memory, when I saw the lifeless form of 
Henry Clerval stretched before me. I gasped for breath; and, 
throwing myself on the body, I exclaimed, "Have my murder- 
ous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of 
life? Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their 
destiny: but you, Clerval, my friend, my benefactor" 

The human frame could no longer support the agonizing 
suffering that I endured, and I was carried out of the room in 

204 Chapter IV 

strong convulsions. 

A fever succeeded to this. I lay for two months on the 
point of death: my ravings, as I afterwards heard, were fright- 
ful; I called myself the murderer of William, of Justine, and of 
Clerval. Sometimes I entreated my attendants to assist me 
in the destruction of the fiend by whom I was tormented; and, 
at others, I felt the fingers of the monster already grasping my 
neck, and screamed aloud with agony and terror. Fortunately, 
as I spoke my native language, Mr. Kirwin alone understood 
me; but my gestures and bitter cries were sufficient to affright 
the other witnesses. 

Why did I not die? More miserable than man ever was 
before, why did I not sink into forgetfulness and rest? Death 
snatches away many blooming children, the only hopes of 
their doating parents: how many brides and youthful lovers 
have been one day in the bloom of health and hope, and the 
next a prey for worms and the decay of the tomb! Of what 
materials was I made, that I could thus resist so many shocks, 
which, like the turning of the wheel, continually renewed the 

But I was doomed to live; and, in two months, found 
myself as awaking from a dream, in a prison, stretched on a 
wretched bed, surrounded by gaolers, turnkeys, bolts, and 
all the miserable apparatus of a dungeon. It was morning, 
I remember, when I thus awoke to understanding: I had 
forgotten the particulars of what had happened, and only 
felt as if some great misfortune had suddenly overwhelmed 
me; but when I looked around, and saw the barred windows, 
and the squalidness of the room in which I was, all flashed 
across my memory, and I groaned bitterly. 

This sound disturbed an old woman who was sleeping 
in a chair beside me. She was a hired nurse, the wife of 
one of the turnkeys, and her countenance expressed all 

Chapter IV 205 

those bad qualities which often characterize that class. The 
lines of her face were hard and rude, like that of persons 
accustomed to see without sympathizing in sights of misery. 
Her tone expressed her entire indifference; she addressed 
me in English, and the voice struck me as one that I had 
heard during my sufferings: 

"Are you better now, Sir?" said she. 

I replied in the same language, with a feeble voice, "I 
believe I am; but if it be all true, if indeed I did not dream, I 
am sorry that I am still alive to feel this misery and horror." 

"For that matter," replied the old woman, "if you mean 
about the gentleman you murdered, I believe that it were 
better for you if you were dead, for I fancy it will go hard with 
you; but you will be hung when the next sessions come on. 
However, that's none of my business, I am sent to nurse you, 
and get you well; I do my duty with a safe conscience, it were 
well if every body did the same." 

I turned with loathing from the woman who could utter so 
unfeeling a speech to a person just saved, on the very edge 
of death; but I felt languid, and unable to reflect on all that 
had passed. The whole series of my life appeared to me as 
a dream; I sometimes doubted if indeed it were all true, for it 
never presented itself to my mind with the force of reality. 

As the images that floated before me became more dis- 
tinct, I grew feverish; a darkness pressed around me; no 
one was near me who soothed me with the gentle voice of 
love; no dear hand supported me. The physician came and 
prescribed medicines, and the old woman prepared them for 
me; but utter carelessness was visible in the first, and the ex- 
pression of brutality was strongly marked in the visage of the 
second. Who could be interested in the fate of a murderer, 
but the hangman who would gain his fee? 

These were my first reflections; but I soon learned that 

206 Chapter IV 

Mr. Kirwin had shewn me extreme kindness. He had caused 
the best room in the prison to be prepared for me (wretched 
indeed was the best); and it was he who had provided a 
physician and a nurse. It is true, he seldom came to see 
me; for, although he ardently desired to relieve the sufferings 
of every human creature, he did not wish to be present at 
the agonies and miserable ravings of a murderer. He came, 
therefore, sometimes to see that I was not neglected; but his 
visits were short, and at long intervals. 

One day, when I was gradually recovering, I was seated 
in a chair, my eyes half open, and my cheeks livid like those 
in death, I was overcome by gloom and misery, and often 
reflected I had better seek death than remain miserably pent 
up only to be let loose in a world replete with wretchedness. 
At one time I considered whether I should not declare myself 
guilty, and suffer the penalty of the law, less innocent than 
poor Justine had been. Such were my thoughts, when the 
door of my apartment was opened, and Mr. Kirwin entered. 
His countenance expressed sympathy and compassion; he 
drew a chair close to mine, and addressed me in French — 

"I fear that this place is very shocking to you; can I do 
any thing to make you more comfortable?" 

"I thank you; but all that you mention is nothing to me: on 
the whole earth there is no comfort which I am capable of 

"I know that the sympathy of a stranger can be but of 
little relief to one borne down as you are by so strange a 
misfortune. But you will, I hope, soon quit this melancholy 
abode; for, doubtless, evidence can easily be brought to free 
you from the criminal charge." 

"That is my least concern: I am, by a course of strange 
events, become the most miserable of mortals. Persecuted 
and tortured as I am and have been, can death be any evil 

Chapter IV 207 

to me?" 

"Nothing indeed could be more unfortunate and agonizing 
than the strange chances that have lately occurred. You 
were thrown, by some surprising accident, on this shore, 
renowned for its hospitality: seized immediately, and charged 
with murder. The first sight that was presented to your eyes 
was the body of your friend, murdered in so unaccountable 
a manner, and placed, as it were, by some fiend across your 

As Mr. Kirwin said this, notwithstanding the agitation I 
endured on this retrospect of my sufferings, I also felt con- 
siderable surprise at the knowledge he seemed to possess 
concerning me. I suppose some astonishment was exhibited 
in my countenance; for Mr. Kirwin hastened to say — 

"It was not until a day or two after your illness that I 
thought of examining your dress, that I might discover some 
trace by which I could send to your relations an account 
of your misfortune and illness. I found several letters, and, 
among others, one which I discovered from its commence- 
ment to be from your father. I instantly wrote to Geneva: 
nearly two months have elapsed since the departure of my 
letter. — But you are ill; even now you tremble: you are unfit 
for agitation of any kind." 

"This suspense is a thousand times worse than the most 
horrible event: tell me what new scene of death has been 
acted, and whose murder I am now to lament." 

"Your family is perfectly well," said Mr. Kirwin, with gentle- 
ness; "and some one, a friend, is come to visit you." 

I know not by what chain of thought the idea presented 
itself, but it instantly darted into my mind that the murderer 
had come to mock at my misery, and taunt me with the death 
of Clerval, as a new incitement for me to comply with his 
hellish desires. I put my hand before my eyes, and cried out 

208 Chapter IV 

in agony — 

"Oh! take him away! I cannot see him; for God's sake, do 
not let him enter!" 

Mr. Kirwin regarded me with a troubled countenance. He 
could not help regarding my exclamation as a presumption 
of my guilt, and said, in rather a severe tone — 

"I should have thought, young man, that the presence of 
your father would have been welcome, instead of inspiring 
such violent repugnance." 

"My father!" cried I, while every feature and every muscle 
was relaxed from anguish to pleasure. "Is my father, indeed, 
come? How kind, how very kind. But where is he, why does 
he not hasten to me?" 

My change of manner surprised and pleased the magis- 
trate; perhaps he thought that my former exclamation was a 
momentary return of delirium, and now he instantly resumed 
his former benevolence. He rose, and quitted the room with 
my nurse, and in a moment my father entered it. 

Nothing, at this moment, could have given me greater 
pleasure than the arrival of my father. I stretched out my 
hand to him, and cried — 

"Are you then safe — and Elizabeth — and Ernest?" 

My father calmed me with assurances of their welfare, 
and endeavoured, by dwelling on these subjects so interest- 
ing to my heart, to raise my desponding spirits; but he soon 
felt that a prison cannot be the abode of cheerfulness. "What 
a place is this that you inhabit, my son!" said he, looking 
mournfully at the barred windows, and wretched appearance 
of the room. "You travelled to seek happiness, but a fatality 
seems to pursue you. And poor Clerval — " 

The name of my unfortunate and murdered friend was 
an agitation too great to be endured in my weak state; I shed 

Chapter IV 209 

"Alas! yes, my father," replied I; "some destiny of the 
most horrible kind hangs over me, and I must live to fulfil it, 
or surely I should have died on the coffin of Henry." 

We were not allowed to converse for any length of time, 
for the precarious state of my health rendered every precau- 
tion necessary that could insure tranquillity. Mr. Kirwin came 
in, and insisted that my strength should not be exhausted by 
too much exertion. But the appearance of my father was to 
me like that of my good angel, and I gradually recovered my 

As my sickness quitted me, I was absorbed by a gloomy 
and black melancholy, that nothing could dissipate. The im- 
age of Clerval was for ever before me, ghastly and murdered. 
More than once the agitation into which these reflections 
threw me made my friends dread a dangerous relapse. Alas! 
why did they preserve so miserable and detested a life? It 
was surely that I might fulfil my destiny, which is now drawing 
to a close. Soon, oh, very soon, will death extinguish these 
throbbings, and relieve me from the mighty weight of anguish 
that bears me to the dust; and, in executing the award of 
justice, I shall also sink to rest. Then the appearance of 
death was distant, although the wish was ever present to my 
thoughts; and I often sat for hours motionless and speech- 
less, wishing for some mighty revolution that might bury me 
and my destroyer in its ruins. 

The season of the assizes approached. I had already 
been three months in prison; and although I was still weak, 
and in continual danger of a relapse, I was obliged to travel 
nearly a hundred miles to the county-town, where the court 
was held. Mr. Kirwin charged himself with every care of col- 
lecting witnesses, and arranging my defence. I was spared 
the disgrace of appearing publicly as a criminal, as the case 
was not brought before the court that decides on life and 

210 Chapter IV 

death. The grand jury rejected the bill, on its being proved 
that I was on the Orkney Islands at the hour the body of 
my friend was found, and a fortnight after my removal I was 
liberated from prison. 

My father was enraptured on finding me freed from the 
vexations of a criminal charge, that I was again allowed to 
breathe the fresh atmosphere, and allowed to return to my 
native country. I did not participate in these feelings; for to me 
the walls of a dungeon or a palace were alike hateful. The 
cup of life was poisoned for ever; and although the sun shone 
upon me, as upon the happy and gay of heart, I saw around 
me nothing but a dense and frightful darkness, penetrated 
by no light but the glimmer of two eyes that glared upon 
me. Sometimes they were the expressive eyes of Henry, 
languishing in death, the dark orbs nearly covered by the 
lids, and the long black lashes that fringed them; sometimes 
it was the watery clouded eyes of the monster, as I first saw 
them in my chamber at Ingolstadt. 

My father tried to awaken in me the feelings of affection. 
He talked of Geneva, which I should soon visit — of Elizabeth, 
and Ernest; but these words only drew deep groans from 
me. Sometimes, indeed, I felt a wish for happiness; and 
thought, with melancholy delight, of my beloved cousin; or 
longed, with a devouring maladie du pays, to see once more 
the blue lake and rapid Rhone, that had been so dear to 
me in early childhood: but my general state of feeling was 
a torpor, in which a prison was as welcome a residence as 
the divinest scene in nature; and these fits were seldom 
interrupted, but by paroxysms of anguish and despair. At 
these moments I often endeavoured to put an end to the 
existence I loathed; and it required unceasing attendance 
and vigilance to restrain me from committing some dreadful 
act of violence. 

Chapter IV 21 1 

I remember, as I quitted the prison, I heard one of the 
men say, "He may be innocent of the murder, but he has 
certainly a bad conscience." These words struck me. A bad 
conscience! yes, surely I had one. William, Justine, and 
Clerval, had died through my infernal machinations; "And 
whose death," cried I, "is to finish the tragedy? Ah! my father, 
do not remain in this wretched country; take me where I may 
forget myself, my existence, and all the world." 

My father easily acceded to my desire; and, after having 
taken leave of Mr. Kirwin, we hastened to Dublin. I felt as if 
I was relieved from a heavy weight, when the packet sailed 
with a fair wind from Ireland, and I had quitted for ever the 
country which had been to me the scene of so much misery. 

It was midnight. My father slept in the cabin; and I lay on 
the deck, looking at the stars, and listening to the dashing of 
the waves. I hailed the darkness that shut Ireland from my 
sight, and my pulse beat with a feverish joy, when I reflected 
that I should soon see Geneva. The past appeared to me in 
the light of a frightful dream; yet the vessel in which I was, 
the wind that blew me from the detested shore of Ireland, 
and the sea which surrounded me, told me too forcibly that 
I was deceived by no vision, and that Clerval, my friend 
and dearest companion, had fallen a victim to me and the 
monster of my creation. I repassed, in my memory, my 
whole life; my quiet happiness while residing with my family 
in Geneva, the death of my mother, and my departure for 
Ingolstadt. I remembered shuddering at the mad enthusiasm 
that hurried me on to the creation of my hideous enemy, and 
I called to mind the night during which he first lived. I was 
unable to pursue the train of thought; a thousand feelings 
pressed upon me, and I wept bitterly. 

Ever since my recovery from the fever I had been in the 
custom of taking every night a small quantity of laudanum; for 

212 Chapter IV 

it was by means of this drug only that I was enabled to gain 
the rest necessary for the preservation of life. Oppressed 
by the recollection of my various misfortunes, I now took 
a double dose, and soon slept profoundly. But sleep did 
not afford me respite from thought and misery; my dreams 
presented a thousand objects that scared me. Towards 
morning I was possessed by a kind of night-mare; I felt the 
fiend's grasp in my neck, and could not free myself from 
it; groans and cries rung in my ears. My father, who was 
watching over me, perceiving my restlessness, awoke me, 
and pointed to the port of Holyhead, which we were now 

Chapter V 

We had resolved not to go to London, but to cross the country 
to Portsmouth, and thence to embark for Havre. I preferred 
this plan principally because I dreaded to see again those 
places in which I had enjoyed a few moments of tranquillity 
with my beloved Clerval. I thought with horror of seeing 
again those persons whom we had been accustomed to visit 
together, and who might make inquiries concerning an event, 
the very remembrance of which made me again feel the 
pang I endured when I gazed on his lifeless form in the inn 
at . 

As for my father, his desires and exertions were bounded 
to the again seeing me restored to health and peace of mind. 
His tenderness and attentions were unremitting; my grief and 
gloom was obstinate, but he would not despair. Sometimes 
he thought that I felt deeply the degradation of being obliged 
to answer a charge of murder, and he endeavoured to prove 
to me the futility of pride. 

"Alas! my father," said I, "how little do you know me. 
Human beings, their feelings and passions, would indeed 
be degraded, if such a wretch as I felt pride. Justine, poor 
unhappy Justine, was as innocent as I, and she suffered the 
same charge; she died for it; and I am the cause of this — I 


214 Chapter V 

murdered her. William, Justine, and Henry — they all died 
by my hands." 

My father had often, during my imprisonment, heard me 
make the same assertion; when I thus accused myself, he 
sometimes seemed to desire an explanation, and at others 
he appeared to consider it as caused by delirium, and that, 
during my illness, some idea of this kind had presented itself 
to my imagination, the remembrance of which I preserved in 
my convalescence. I avoided explanation, and maintained 
a continual silence concerning the wretch I had created. I 
had a feeling that I should be supposed mad, and this for 
ever chained my tongue, when I would have given the whole 
world to have confided the fatal secret. 

Upon this occasion my father said, with an expression 
of unbounded wonder, "What do you mean, Victor? are you 
mad? My dear son, I entreat you never to make such an 
assertion again." 

"I am not mad," I cried energetically; "the sun and the 
heavens, who have viewed my operations, can bear witness 
of my truth. I am the assassin of those most innocent victims; 
they died by my machinations. A thousand times would I 
have shed my own blood, drop by drop, to have saved their 
lives; but I could not, my father, indeed I could not sacrifice 
the whole human race." 

The conclusion of this speech convinced my father that 
my ideas were deranged, and he instantly changed the sub- 
ject of our conversation, and endeavoured to alter the course 
of my thoughts. He wished as much as possible to obliterate 
the memory of the scenes that had taken place in Ireland, 
and never alluded to them, or suffered me to speak of my 

As time passed away I became more calm: misery had 
her dwelling in my heart, but I no longer talked in the same 

Chapter V 215 

incoherent manner of my own crimes; sufficient for me was 
the consciousness of them. By the utmost self-violence, I 
curbed the imperious voice of wretchedness, which some- 
times desired to declare itself to the whole world; and my 
manners were calmer and more composed than they had 
ever been since my journey to the sea of ice. 

We arrived at Havre on the 8th of May, and instantly 
proceeded to Paris, where my father had some business 
which detained us a few weeks. In this city, I received the 
following letter from Elizabeth: — 

"To Victor Frankenstein. 


"It gave me the greatest pleasure to receive a letter from 
my uncle dated at Paris; you are no longer at a formidable 
distance, and I may hope to see you in less than a fortnight. 
My poor cousin, how much you must have suffered! I ex- 
pect to see you looking even more ill than when you quitted 
Geneva. This winter has been passed most miserably, tor- 
tured as I have been by anxious suspense; yet I hope to see 
peace in your countenance, and to find that your heart is not 
totally devoid of comfort and tranquillity. 

"Yet I fear that the same feelings now exist that made you 
so miserable a year ago, even perhaps augmented by time. 
I would not disturb you at this period, when so many misfor- 
tunes weigh upon you; but a conversation that I had with my 
uncle previous to his departure renders some explanation 
necessary before we meet. 

"Explanation! you may possibly say; what can Elizabeth 
have to explain? If you really say this, my questions are 
answered, and I have no more to do than to sign myself your 
affectionate cousin. But you are distant from me, and it is 

216 Chapter V 

possible that you may dread, and yet be pleased with this 
explanation; and, in a probability of this being the case, I dare 
not any longer postpone writing what, during your absence, I 
have often wished to express to you, but have never had the 
courage to begin. 

"You well know, Victor, that our union had been the 
favourite plan of your parents ever since our infancy. We 
were told this when young, and taught to look forward to it 
as an event that would certainly take place. We were af- 
fectionate playfellows during childhood, and, I believe, dear 
and valued friends to one another as we grew older. But as 
brother and sister often entertain a lively affection towards 
each other, without desiring a more intimate union, may not 
such also be our case? Tell me, dearest Victor. Answer me, 
I conjure you, by our mutual happiness, with simple truth — 
Do you not love another? 

"You have travelled; you have spent several years of your 
life at Ingolstadt; and I confess to you, my friend, that when 
I saw you last autumn so unhappy, flying to solitude, from 
the society of every creature, I could not help supposing 
that you might regret our connexion, and believe yourself 
bound in honour to fulfil the wishes of your parents, although 
they opposed themselves to your inclinations. But this is 
false reasoning. I confess to you, my cousin, that I love you, 
and that in my airy dreams of futurity you have been my 
constant friend and companion. But it is your happiness I 
desire as well as my own, when I declare to you, that our 
marriage would render me eternally miserable, unless it were 
the dictate of your own free choice. Even now I weep to think, 
that, borne down as you are by the cruelest misfortunes, 
you may stifle, by the word honour, all hope of that love 
and happiness which would alone restore you to yourself. I, 
who have so interested an affection for you, may increase 

Chapter V 217 

your miseries ten-fold, by being an obstacle to your wishes. 
Ah, Victor, be assured that your cousin and playmate has 
too sincere a love for you not to be made miserable by this 
supposition. Be happy, my friend; and if you obey me in this 
one request, remain satisfied that nothing on earth will have 
the power to interrupt my tranquillity. 

"Do not let this letter disturb you; do not answer it to- 
morrow, or the next day, or even until you come, if it will give 
you pain. My uncle will send me news of your health; and if I 
see but one smile on your lips when we meet, occasioned 
by this or any other exertion of mine, I shall need no other 

"Elizabeth Lavenza. 

"Geneva, May 18th, 17—." 

This letter revived in my memory what I had before for- 
gotten, the threat of the fiend — "/ will be with you on your 
wedding-night!" Such was my sentence, and on that night 
would the daemon employ every art to destroy me, and tear 
me from the glimpse of happiness which promised partly to 
console my sufferings. On that night he had determined to 
consummate his crimes by my death. Well, be it so; a deadly 
struggle would then assuredly take place, in which if he was 
victorious, I should be at peace, and his power over me be 
at an end. If he were vanquished, I should be a free man. 
Alas! what freedom? such as the peasant enjoys when his 
family have been massacred before his eyes, his cottage 
burnt, his lands laid waste, and he is turned adrift, homeless, 
pennyless, and alone, but free. Such would be my liberty, 
except that in my Elizabeth I possessed a treasure; alas! 

218 Chapter V 

balanced by those horrors of remorse and guilt, which would 
pursue me until death. 

Sweet and beloved Elizabeth! I read and re-read her 
letter, and some softened feelings stole into my heart, and 
dared to whisper paradisaical dreams of love and joy; but 
the apple was already eaten, and the angel's arm bared to 
drive me from all hope. Yet I would die to make her happy. 
If the monster executed his threat, death was inevitable; 
yet, again, I considered whether my marriage would hasten 
my fate. My destruction might indeed arrive a few months 
sooner; but if my torturer should suspect that I postponed it, 
influenced by his menaces, he would surely find other, and 
perhaps more dreadful means of revenge. He had vowed 
to be with me on my wedding-night, yet he did not consider 
that threat as binding him to peace in the mean time; for, 
as if to shew me that he was not yet satiated with blood, he 
had murdered Clerval immediately after the enunciation of 
his threats. I resolved, therefore, that if my immediate union 
with my cousin would conduce either to her's or my father's 
happiness, my adversary's designs against my life should 
not retard it a single hour. 

In this state of mind I wrote to Elizabeth. My letter was 
calm and affectionate. "I fear, my beloved girl," I said, "little 
happiness remains for us on earth; yet all that I may one day 
enjoy is concentered in you. Chase away your idle fears; to 
you alone do I consecrate my life, and my endeavours for 
contentment. I have one secret, Elizabeth, a dreadful one; 
when revealed to you, it will chill your frame with horror, and 
then, far from being surprised at my misery, you will only 
wonder that I survive what I have endured. I will confide this 
tale of misery and terror to you the day after our marriage 
shall take place; for, my sweet cousin, there must be perfect 
confidence between us. But until then, I conjure you, do not 

Chapter V 219 

mention or allude to it. This I most earnestly entreat, and I 
know you will comply." 

In about a week after the arrival of Elizabeth's letter, we 
returned to Geneva. My cousin welcomed me with warm 
affection; yet tears were in her eyes, as she beheld my 
emaciated frame and feverish cheeks. I saw a change in her 
also. She was thinner, and had lost much of that heavenly 
vivacity that had before charmed me; but her gentleness, and 
soft looks of compassion, made her a more fit companion for 
one blasted and miserable as I was. 

The tranquillity which I now enjoyed did not endure. Mem- 
ory brought madness with it; and when I thought on what 
had passed, a real insanity possessed me; sometimes I was 
furious, and burnt with rage, sometimes low and despondent. 
I neither spoke or looked, but sat motionless, bewildered by 
the multitude of miseries that overcame me. 

Elizabeth alone had the power to draw me from these 
fits; her gentle voice would soothe me when transported 
by passion, and inspire me with human feelings when sunk 
in torpor. She wept with me, and for me. When reason 
returned, she would remonstrate, and endeavour to inspire 
me with resignation. Ah! it is well for the unfortunate to be 
resigned, but for the guilty there is no peace. The agonies 
of remorse poison the luxury there is otherwise sometimes 
found in indulging the excess of grief. 

Soon after my arrival my father spoke of my immediate 
marriage with my cousin. I remained silent. 

"Have you, then, some other attachment?" 

"None on earth. I love Elizabeth, and look forward to our 
union with delight. Let the day therefore be fixed; and on it I 
will consecrate myself, in life or death, to the happiness of 
my cousin." 

"My dear Victor, do not speak thus. Heavy misfortunes 

220 Chapter V 

have befallen us; but let us only cling closer to what remains, 
and transfer our love for those whom we have lost to those 
who yet live. Our circle will be small, but bound close by 
the ties of affection and mutual misfortune. And when time 
shall have softened your despair, new and dear objects of 
care will be born to replace those of whom we have been so 
cruelly deprived." 

Such were the lessons of my father. But to me the re- 
membrance of the threat returned: nor can you wonder, 
that, omnipotent as the fiend had yet been in his deeds of 
blood, I should almost regard him as invincible; and that 
when he had pronounced the words, "I shall be with you on 
your wedding-night" I should regard the threatened fate as 
unavoidable. But death was no evil to me, if the loss of Eliza- 
beth were balanced with it; and I therefore, with a contented 
and even cheerful countenance, agreed with my father, that 
if my cousin would consent, the ceremony should take place 
in ten days, and thus put, as I imagined, the seal to my fate. 

Great God! if for one instant I had thought what might 
be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would 
rather have banished myself for ever from my native country, 
and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth, than have 
consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed 
of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real 
intentions; and when I thought that I prepared only my own 
death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim. 

As the period fixed for our marriage drew nearer, whether 
from cowardice or a prophetic feeling, I felt my heart sink 
within me. But I concealed my feelings by an appearance 
of hilarity, that brought smiles and joy to the countenance of 
my father, but hardly deceived the ever-watchful and nicer 
eye of Elizabeth. She looked forward to our union with placid 
contentment, not unmingled with a little fear, which past 

Chapter V 221 

misfortunes had impressed, that what now appeared certain 
and tangible happiness, might soon dissipate into an airy 
dream, and leave no trace but deep and everlasting regret. 

Preparations were made for the event; congratulatory 
visits were received; and all wore a smiling appearance. I 
shut up, as well as I could, in my own heart the anxiety that 
preyed there, and entered with seeming earnestness into 
the plans of my father, although they might only serve as the 
decorations of my tragedy. A house was purchased for us 
near Cologny, by which we should enjoy the pleasures of the 
country, and yet be so near Geneva as to see my father every 
day; who would still reside within the walls, for the benefit of 
Ernest, that he might follow his studies at the schools. 

In the mean time I took every precaution to defend my 
person, in case the fiend should openly attack me. I carried 
pistols and a dagger constantly about me, and was ever on 
the watch to prevent artifice; and by these means gained 
a greater degree of tranquillity. Indeed, as the period ap- 
proached, the threat appeared more as a delusion, not to be 
regarded as worthy to disturb my peace, while the happiness 
I hoped for in my marriage wore a greater appearance of 
certainty, as the day fixed for its solemnization drew nearer, 
and I heard it continually spoken of as an occurrence which 
no accident could possibly prevent. 

Elizabeth seemed happy; my tranquil demeanour con- 
tributed greatly to calm her mind. But on the day that was 
to fulfil my wishes and my destiny, she was melancholy, and 
a presentiment of evil pervaded her; and perhaps also she 
thought of the dreadful secret, which I had promised to re- 
veal to her the following day. My father was in the mean time 
overjoyed, and, in the bustle of preparation, only observed in 
the melancholy of his niece the diffidence of a bride. 

After the ceremony was performed, a large party assem- 

222 Chapter V 

bled at my father's; but it was agreed that Elizabeth and I 
should pass the afternoon and night at Evian, and return to 
Cologny the next morning. As the day was fair, and the wind 
favourable, we resolved to go by water. 

Those were the last moments of my life during which I 
enjoyed the feeling of happiness. We passed rapidly along: 
the sun was hot, but we were sheltered from its rays by a 
kind of canopy, while we enjoyed the beauty of the scene, 
sometimes on one side of the lake, where we saw Mont 
Saleve, the pleasant banks of Montalegre, and at a distance, 
surmounting all, the beautiful Mont Blanc, and the assem- 
blage of snowy mountains that in vain endeavour to emulate 
her; sometimes coasting the opposite banks, we saw the 
mighty Jura opposing its dark side to the ambition that would 
quit its native country, and an almost insurmountable barrier 
to the invader who should wish to enslave it. 

I took the hand of Elizabeth: "You are sorrowful, my love. 
Ah! if you knew what I have suffered, and what I may yet 
endure, you would endeavour to let me taste the quiet, and 
freedom from despair, that this one day at least permits me 
to enjoy." 

"Be happy, my dear Victor," replied Elizabeth; "there is, 
I hope, nothing to distress you; and be assured that if a 
lively joy is not painted in my face, my heart is contented. 
Something whispers to me not to depend too much on the 
prospect that is opened before us; but I will not listen to such 
a sinister voice. Observe how fast we move along, and how 
the clouds which sometimes obscure, and sometimes rise 
above the dome of Mont Blanc, render this scene of beauty 
still more interesting. Look also at the innumerable fish that 
are swimming in the clear waters, where we can distinguish 
every pebble that lies at the bottom. What a divine day! how 
happy and serene all nature appears!" 

Chapter V 223 

Thus Elizabeth endeavoured to divert her thoughts and 
mine from all reflection upon melancholy subjects. But her 
temper was fluctuating; joy for a few instants shone in her 
eyes, but it continually gave place to distraction and reverie. 

The sun sunk lower in the heavens; we passed the river 
Drance, and observed its path through the chasms of the 
higher, and the glens of the lower hills. The Alps here come 
closer to the lake, and we approached the amphitheatre of 
mountains which forms its eastern boundary. The spire of 
Evian shone under the woods that surrounded it, and the 
range of mountain above mountain by which it was overhung. 

The wind, which had hitherto carried us along with amaz- 
ing rapidity, sunk at sunset to a light breeze; the soft air just 
ruffled the water, and caused a pleasant motion among the 
trees as we approached the shore, from which it wafted the 
most delightful scent of flowers and hay. The sun sunk be- 
neath the horizon as we landed; and as I touched the shore, 
I felt those cares and fears revive, which soon were to clasp 
me, and cling to me for ever. 

224 Chapter V 

Chapter VI 

It was eight o'clock when we landed; we walked for a short 
time on the shore, enjoying the transitory light, and then 
retired to the inn, and contemplated the lovely scene of 
waters, woods, and mountains, obscured in darkness, yet 
still displaying their black outlines. 

The wind, which had fallen in the south, now rose with 
great violence in the west. The moon had reached her 
summit in the heavens, and was beginning to descend; the 
clouds swept across it swifter than the flight of the vulture, 
and dimmed her rays, while the lake reflected the scene of 
the busy heavens, rendered still busier by the restless waves 
that were beginning to rise. Suddenly a heavy storm of rain 

I had been calm during the day; but so soon as night 
obscured the shapes of objects, a thousand fears arose in 
my mind. I was anxious and watchful, while my right hand 
grasped a pistol which was hidden in my bosom; every sound 
terrified me; but I resolved that I would sell my life dearly, and 
not relax the impending conflict until my own life, or that of 
my adversary, were extinguished. 

Elizabeth observed my agitation for some time in timid 
and fearful silence; at length she said, "What is it that agitates 
you, my dear Victor? What is it you fear?" 


226 Chapter VI 

"Oh! peace, peace, my love," replied I, "this night, and all 
will be safe: but this night is dreadful, very dreadful." 

I passed an hour in this state of mind, when suddenly 
I reflected how dreadful the combat which I momentarily 
expected would be to my wife, and I earnestly entreated her 
to retire, resolving not to join her until I had obtained some 
knowledge as to the situation of my enemy. 

She left me, and I continued some time walking up and 
down the passages of the house, and inspecting every corner 
that might afford a retreat to my adversary. But I discovered 
no trace of him, and was beginning to conjecture that some 
fortunate chance had intervened to prevent the execution of 
his menaces; when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful 
scream. It came from the room into which Elizabeth had 
retired. As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, 
my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was 
suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins, and 
tingling in the extremities of my limbs. This state lasted but 
for an instant; the scream was repeated, and I rushed into 
the room. 

Great God! why did I not then expire! Why am I here 
to relate the destruction of the best hope, and the purest 
creature of earth. She was there, lifeless and inanimate, 
thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her 
pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. Every 
where I turn I see the same figure — her bloodless arms and 
relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier. Could 
I behold this, and live? Alas! life is obstinate, and clings 
closest where it is most hated. For a moment only did I lose 
recollection; I fainted. 

When I recovered, I found myself surrounded by the 
people of the inn; their countenances expressed a breathless 
terror: but the horror of others appeared only as a mockery, 

Chapter VI 227 

a shadow of the feelings that oppressed me. I escaped from 
them to the room where lay the body of Elizabeth, my love, 
my wife, so lately living, so dear, so worthy. She had been 
moved from the posture in which I had first beheld her; and 
now, as she lay, her head upon her arm, and a handkerchief 
thrown across her face and neck, I might have supposed 
her asleep. I rushed towards her, and embraced her with 
ardour; but the deathly languor and coldness of the limbs told 
me, that what I now held in my arms had ceased to be the 
Elizabeth whom I had loved and cherished. The murderous 
mark of the fiend's grasp was on her neck, and the breath 
had ceased to issue from her lips. 

While I still hung over her in the agony of despair, I hap- 
pened to look up. The windows of the room had before been 
darkened; and I felt a kind of panic on seeing the pale yellow 
light of the moon illuminate the chamber. The shutters had 
been thrown back; and, with a sensation of horror not to 
be described, I saw at the open window a figure the most 
hideous and abhorred. A grin was on the face of the mon- 
ster; he seemed to jeer, as with his fiendish finger he pointed 
towards the corpse of my wife. I rushed towards the window, 
and drawing a pistol from my bosom, shot; but he eluded me, 
leaped from his station, and, running with the swiftness of 
lightning, plunged into the lake. 

The report of the pistol brought a crowd into the room. 
I pointed to the spot where he had disappeared, and we 
followed the track with boats; nets were cast, but in vain. 
After passing several hours, we returned hopeless, most of 
my companions believing it to have been a form conjured 
by my fancy. After having landed, they proceeded to search 
the country, parties going in different directions among the 
woods and vines. 

I did not accompany them; I was exhausted: a film cov- 

228 Chapter VI 

ered my eyes, and my skin was parched with the heat of 
fever. In this state I lay on a bed, hardly conscious of what 
had happened; my eyes wandered round the room, as if to 
seek something that I had lost. 

At length I remembered that my father would anxiously 
expect the return of Elizabeth and myself, and that I must 
return alone. This reflection brought tears into my eyes, and 
I wept for a long time; but my thoughts rambled to various 
subjects, reflecting on my misfortunes, and their cause. I 
was bewildered in a cloud of wonder and horror. The death 
of William, the execution of Justine, the murder of Clerval, 
and lastly of my wife; even at that moment I knew not that 
my only remaining friends were safe from the malignity of 
the fiend; my father even now might be writhing under his 
grasp, and Ernest might be dead at his feet. This idea made 
me shudder, and recalled me to action. I started up, and 
resolved to return to Geneva with all possible speed. 

There were no horses to be procured, and I must return 
by the lake; but the wind was unfavourable, and the rain fell in 
torrents. However, it was hardly morning, and I might reason- 
ably hope to arrive by night. I hired men to row, and took an 
oar myself, for I had always experienced relief from mental 
torment in bodily exercise. But the overflowing misery I now 
felt, and the excess of agitation that I endured, rendered me 
incapable of any exertion. I threw down the oar; and, leaning 
my head upon my hands, gave way to every gloomy idea that 
arose. If I looked up, I saw the scenes which were familiar 
to me in my happier time, and which I had contemplated but 
the day before in the company of her who was now but a 
shadow and a recollection. Tears streamed from my eyes. 
The rain had ceased for a moment, and I saw the fish play 
in the waters as they had done a few hours before; they had 
then been observed by Elizabeth. Nothing is so painful to the 

Chapter VI 229 

human mind as a great and sudden change. The sun might 
shine, or the clouds might lour; but nothing could appear to 
me as it had done the day before. A fiend had snatched from 
me every hope of future happiness: no creature had ever 
been so miserable as I was; so frightful an event is single in 
the history of man. 

But why should I dwell upon the incidents that followed 
this last overwhelming event. Mine has been a tale of horrors; 
I have reached their acme, and what I must now relate can 
but be tedious to you. Know that, one by one, my friends 
were snatched away; I was left desolate. My own strength is 
exhausted; and I must tell, in a few words, what remains of 
my hideous narration. 

I arrived at Geneva. My father and Ernest yet lived; but 
the former sunk under the tidings that I bore. I see him 
now, excellent and venerable old man! his eyes wandered 
in vacancy, for they had lost their charm and their delight — 
his niece, his more than daughter, whom he doated on with 
all that affection which a man feels, who, in the decline of 
life, having few affections, clings more earnestly to those that 
remain. Cursed, cursed be the fiend that brought misery on 
his grey hairs, and doomed him to waste in wretchedness! 
He could not live under the horrors that were accumulated 
around him; an apoplectic fit was brought on, and in a few 
days he died in my arms. 

What then became of me? I know not; I lost sensation, 
and chains and darkness were the only objects that pressed 
upon me. Sometimes, indeed, I dreamt that I wandered in 
flowery meadows and pleasant vales with the friends of my 
youth; but awoke, and found myself in a dungeon. Melan- 
choly followed, but by degrees I gained a clear conception 
of my miseries and situation, and was then released from 
my prison. For they had called me mad; and during many 

230 Chapter VI 

months, as I understood, a solitary cell had been my habita- 

But liberty had been a useless gift to me had I not, as I 
awakened to reason, at the same time awakened to revenge. 
As the memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I 
began to reflect on their cause — the monster whom I had 
created, the miserable daemon whom I had sent abroad 
into the world for my destruction. I was possessed by a 
maddening rage when I thought of him, and desired and 
ardently prayed that I might have him within my grasp to 
wreak a great and signal revenge on his cursed head. 

Nor did my hate long confine itself to useless wishes; 
I began to reflect on the best means of securing him; and 
for this purpose, about a month after my release, I repaired 
to a criminal judge in the town, and told him that I had an 
accusation to make; that I knew the destroyer of my family; 
and that I required him to exert his whole authority for the 
apprehension of the murderer. 

The magistrate listened to me with attention and kind- 
ness: "Be assured, sir," said he, "no pains or exertions on my 
part shall be spared to discover the villain." 

"I thank you," replied I; "listen, therefore, to the deposition 
that I have to make. It is indeed a tale so strange, that I 
should fear you would not credit it, were there not something 
in truth which, however wonderful, forces conviction. The 
story is too connected to be mistaken for a dream, and I have 
no motive for falsehood." My manner, as I thus addressed 
him, was impressive, but calm; I had formed in my own 
heart a resolution to pursue my destroyer to death; and this 
purpose quieted my agony, and provisionally reconciled me 
to life. I now related my history briefly, but with firmness 
and precision, marking the dates with accuracy, and never 
deviating into invective or exclamation. 

Chapter VI 231 

The magistrate appeared at first perfectly incredulous, 
but as I continued he became more attentive and interested; 
I saw him sometimes shudder with horror, at others a lively 
surprise, unmingled with disbelief, was painted on his coun- 

When I had concluded my narration, I said. "This is the 
being whom I accuse, and for whose detection and punish- 
ment I call upon you to exert your whole power. It is your duty 
as a magistrate, and I believe and hope that your feelings as 
a man will not revolt from the execution of those functions on 
this occasion." 

This address caused a considerable change in the phys- 
iognomy of my auditor. He had heard my story with that half 
kind of belief that is given to a tale of spirits and supernat- 
ural events; but when he was called upon to act officially 
in consequence, the whole tide of his incredulity returned. 
He, however, answered mildly, "I would willingly afford you 
every aid in your pursuit; but the creature of whom you speak 
appears to have powers which would put all my exertions to 
defiance. Who can follow an animal which can traverse the 
sea of ice, and inhabit caves and dens, where no man would 
venture to intrude? Besides, some months have elapsed 
since the commission of his crimes, and no one can conjec- 
ture to what place he has wandered, or what region he may 
now inhabit." 

"I do not doubt that he hovers near the spot which I 
inhabit; and if he has indeed taken refuge in the Alps, he 
may be hunted like the chamois, and destroyed as a beast 
of prey. But I perceive your thoughts: you do not credit my 
narrative, and do not intend to pursue my enemy with the 
punishment which is his desert." 

As I spoke, rage sparkled in my eyes; the magistrate was 
intimidated; "You are mistaken," said he, "I will exert myself; 

232 Chapter VI 

and if it is in my power to seize the monster, be assured 
that he shall suffer punishment proportionate to his crimes. 
But I fear, from what you have yourself described to be his 
properties, that this will prove impracticable, and that, while 
every proper measure is pursued, you should endeavour to 
make up your mind to disappointment." 

"That cannot be; but all that I can say will be of little avail. 
My revenge is of no moment to you; yet, while I allow it to 
be a vice, I confess that it is the devouring and only passion 
of my soul. My rage is unspeakable, when I reflect that the 
murderer, whom I have turned loose upon society, still exists. 
You refuse my just demand: I have but one resource; and I 
devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction." 

I trembled with excess of agitation as I said this; there 
was a phrenzy in my manner, and something, I doubt not, of 
that haughty fierceness, which the martyrs of old are said to 
have possessed. But to a Genevan magistrate, whose mind 
was occupied by far other ideas than those of devotion and 
heroism, this elevation of mind had much the appearance of 
madness. He endeavoured to soothe me as a nurse does a 
child, and reverted to my tale as the effects of delirium. 

"Man," I cried, "how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wis- 
dom! Cease; you know not what it is you say." 

I broke from the house angry and disturbed, and retired 
to meditate on some other mode of action. 

Chapter VII 

My present situation was one in which all voluntary thought 
was swallowed up and lost. I was hurried away by fury; 
revenge alone endowed me with strength and composure; 
it modelled my feelings, and allowed me to be calculating 
and calm, at periods when otherwise delirium or death would 
have been my portion. 

My first resolution was to quit Geneva for ever; my coun- 
try, which, when I was happy and beloved, was dear to me, 
now, in my adversity, became hateful. I provided myself 
with a sum of money, together with a few jewels which had 
belonged to my mother, and departed. 

And now my wanderings began, which are to cease but 
with life. I have traversed a vast portion of the earth, and 
have endured all the hardships which travellers, in deserts 
and barbarous countries, are wont to meet. How I have lived 
I hardly know; many times have I stretched my failing limbs 
upon the sandy plain, and prayed for death. But revenge 
kept me alive; I dared not die, and leave my adversary in 

When I quitted Geneva, my first labour was to gain some 
clue by which I might trace the steps of my fiendish en- 
emy. But my plan was unsettled; and I wandered many 


234 Chapter VII 

hours around the confines of the town, uncertain what path 
I should pursue. As night approached, I found myself at 
the entrance of the cemetery where William, Elizabeth, and 
my father, reposed. I entered it, and approached the tomb 
which marked their graves. Every thing was silent, except 
the leaves of the trees, which were gently agitated by the 
wind; the night was nearly dark; and the scene would have 
been solemn and affecting even to an uninterested observer. 
The spirits of the departed seemed to flit around, and to cast 
a shadow, which was felt but seen not, around the head of 
the mourner. 

The deep grief which this scene had at first excited quickly 
gave way to rage and despair. They were dead, and I lived; 
their murderer also lived, and to destroy him I must drag 
out my weary existence. I knelt on the grass, and kissed 
the earth, and with quivering lips exclaimed, "By the sacred 
earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, 
by the deep and eternal grief that I feel, I swear; and by thee, 
O Night, and by the spirits that preside over thee, I swear 
to pursue the daemon, who caused this misery, until he or I 
shall perish in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve 
my life: to execute this dear revenge, will I again behold the 
sun, and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise 
should vanish from my eyes for ever. And I call on you, spirits 
of the dead; and on you, wandering ministers of vengeance, 
to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and hellish 
monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that 
now torments me." 

I had begun my adjuration with solemnity, and an awe 
which almost assured me that the shades of my murdered 
friends heard and approved my devotion; but the furies pos- 
sessed me as I concluded, and rage choaked my utterance. 

I was answered through the stillness of night by a loud 

Chapter VII 235 

and fiendish laugh. It rung on my ears long and heavily; the 
mountains re-echoed it, and I felt as if all hell surrounded me 
with mockery and laughter. Surely in that moment I should 
have been possessed by phrenzy and have destroyed my 
miserable existence, but that my vow was heard, and that I 
was reserved for vengeance. The laughter died away: when 
a well-known and abhorred voice, apparently close to my 
ear, addressed me in an audible whisper — "I am satisfied: 
miserable wretch! you have determined to live, and I am 

I darted towards the spot from which the sound pro- 
ceeded; but the devil eluded my grasp. Suddenly the broad 
disk of the moon arose, and shone full upon his ghastly and 
distorted shape, as he fled with more than mortal speed. 

I pursued him; and for many months this has been my 
task. Guided by a slight clue, I followed the windings of the 
Rhone, but vainly. The blue Mediterranean appeared; and, 
by a strange chance, I saw the fiend enter by night, and 
hide himself in a vessel bound for the Black Sea. I took my 
passage in the same ship; but he escaped, I know not how. 

Amidst the wilds of Tartary and Russia, although he still 
evaded me, I have ever followed in his track. Sometimes the 
peasants, scared by this horrid apparition, informed me of 
his path; sometimes he himself, who feared that if I lost all 
trace I should despair and die, often left some mark to guide 
me. The snows descended on my head, and I saw the print 
of his huge step on the white plain. To you first entering on 
life, to whom care is new, and agony unknown, how can you 
understand what I have felt, and still feel? Cold, want, and 
fatigue, were the least pains which I was destined to endure; 
I was cursed by some devil, and carried about with me my 
eternal hell; yet still a spirit of good followed and directed my 
steps, and, when I most murmured, would suddenly extricate 

236 Chapter VII 

me from seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Sometimes, 
when nature, overcome by hunger, sunk under the exhaus- 
tion, a repast was prepared for me in the desert, that restored 
and inspirited me. The fare was indeed coarse, such as the 
peasants of the country ate; but I may not doubt that it was 
set there by the spirits that I had invoked to aid me. Often, 
when all was dry, the heavens cloudless, and I was parched 
by thirst, a slight cloud would bedim the sky, shed the few 
drops that revived me, and vanish. 

I followed, when I could, the courses of the rivers; but 
the daemon generally avoided these, as it was here that the 
population of the country chiefly collected. In other places 
human beings were seldom seen; and I generally subsisted 
on the wild animals that crossed my path. I had money with 
me, and gained the friendship of the villagers by distributing 
it, or bringing with me some food that I had killed, which, 
after taking a small part, I always presented to those who 
had provided me with fire and utensils for cooking. 

My life, as it passed thus, was indeed hateful to me, and 
it was during sleep alone that I could taste joy. O blessed 
sleep! often, when most miserable, I sank to repose, and my 
dreams lulled me even to rapture. The spirits that guarded 
me had provided these moments, or rather hours, of hap- 
piness, that I might retain strength to fulfil my pilgrimage. 
Deprived of this respite, I should have sunk under my hard- 
ships. During the day I was sustained and inspirited by the 
hope of night: for in sleep I saw my friends, my wife, and my 
beloved country; again I saw the benevolent countenance 
of my father, heard the silver tones of my Elizabeth's voice, 
and beheld Clerval enjoying health and youth. Often, when 
wearied by a toilsome march, I persuaded myself that I was 
dreaming until night should come, and that I should then en- 
joy reality in the arms of my dearest friends. What agonizing 

Chapter VII 237 

fondness did I feel for them! how did I cling to their dear 
forms, as sometimes they haunted even my waking hours, 
and persuade myself that they still lived! At such moments 
vengeance, that burned within me, died in my heart, and 
I pursued my path towards the destruction of the daemon, 
more as a task enjoined by heaven, as the mechanical im- 
pulse of some power of which I was unconscious, than as 
the ardent desire of my soul. 

What his feelings were whom I pursued, I cannot know. 
Sometimes, indeed, he left marks in writing on the barks of 
the trees, or cut in stone, that guided me, and instigated my 
fury. "My reign is not yet over," (these words were legible 
in one of these inscriptions); "you live, and my power is 
complete. Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north, 
where you will feel the misery of cold and frost, to which I 
am impassive. You will find near this place, if you follow not 
too tardily, a dead hare; eat, and be refreshed. Come on, my 
enemy; we have yet to wrestle for our lives; but many hard 
and miserable hours must you endure, until that period shall 

Scoffing devil! Again do I vow vengeance; again do I 
devote thee, miserable fiend, to torture and death. Never 
will I omit my search, until he or I perish; and then with what 
ecstacy shall I join my Elizabeth, and those who even now 
prepare for me the reward of my tedious toil and horrible 

As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snows 
thickened, and the cold increased in a degree almost too 
severe to support. The peasants were shut up in their hovels, 
and only a few of the most hardy ventured forth to seize the 
animals whom starvation had forced from their hiding-places 
to seek for prey. The rivers were covered with ice, and no 
fish could be procured; and thus I was cut off from my chief 

238 Chapter VII 

article of maintenance. 

The triumph of my enemy increased with the difficulty of 
my labours. One inscription that he left was in these words: 
"Prepare! your toils only begin: wrap yourself in furs, and 
provide food, for we shall soon enter upon a journey where 
your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred." 

My courage and perseverance were invigorated by these 
scoffing words; I resolved not to fail in my purpose; and, 
calling on heaven to support me, I continued with unabated 
fervour to traverse immense deserts, until the ocean ap- 
peared at a distance, and formed the utmost boundary of the 
horizon. Oh! how unlike it was to the blue seas of the south! 
Covered with ice, it was only to be distinguished from land 
by its superior wildness and ruggedness. The Greeks wept 
for joy when they beheld the Mediterranean from the hills of 
Asia, and hailed with rapture the boundary of their toils. I did 
not weep; but I knelt down, and, with a full heart, thanked my 
guiding spirit for conducting me in safety to the place where 
I hoped, notwithstanding my adversary's gibe, to meet and 
grapple with him. 

Some weeks before this period I had procured a sledge 
and dogs, and thus traversed the snows with inconceivable 
speed. I know not whether the fiend possessed the same 
advantages; but I found that, as before I had daily lost ground 
in the pursuit, I now gained on him; so much so, that when I 
first saw the ocean, he was but one day's journey in advance, 
and I hoped to intercept him before he should reach the 
beach. With new courage, therefore, I pressed on, and in 
two days arrived at a wretched hamlet on the seashore. I 
inquired of the inhabitants concerning the fiend, and gained 
accurate information. A gigantic monster, they said, had 
arrived the night before, armed with a gun and many pistols; 
putting to flight the inhabitants of a solitary cottage, through 

Chapter VII 239 

fear of his terrific appearance. He had carried off their store 
of winter food, and, placing it in a sledge, to draw which he 
had seized on a numerous drove of trained dogs, he had 
harnessed them, and the same night, to the joy of the horror- 
struck villagers, had pursued his journey across the sea in 
a direction that led to no land; and they conjectured that he 
must speedily be destroyed by the breaking of the ice, or 
frozen by the eternal frosts. 

On hearing this information, I suffered a temporary ac- 
cess of despair. He had escaped me; and I must commence 
a destructive and almost endless journey across the moun- 
tainous ices of the ocean, — amidst cold that few of the 
inhabitants could long endure, and which I, the native of a 
genial and sunny climate, could not hope to survive. Yet at 
the idea that the fiend should live and be triumphant, my 
rage and vengeance returned, and, like a mighty tide, over- 
whelmed every other feeling. After a slight repose, during 
which the spirits of the dead hovered round, and instigated 
me to toil and revenge, I prepared for my journey. 

I exchanged my land sledge for one fashioned for the 
inequalities of the frozen ocean; and, purchasing a plentiful 
stock of provisions, I departed from land. 

I cannot guess how many days have passed since then; 
but I have endured misery, which nothing but the eternal sen- 
timent of a just retribution burning within my heart could have 
enabled me to support. Immense and rugged mountains 
of ice often barred up my passage, and I often heard the 
thunder of the ground sea, which threatened my destruction. 
But again the frost came, and made the paths of the sea 

By the quantity of provision which I had consumed I 
should guess that I had passed three weeks in this journey; 
and the continual protraction of hope, returning back upon 

240 Chapter VII 

the heart, often wrung bitter drops of despondency and grief 
from my eyes. Despair had indeed almost secured her prey, 
and I should soon have sunk beneath this misery; when once, 
after the poor animals that carried me had with incredible toil 
gained the summit of a sloping ice mountain, and one sinking 
under his fatigue died, I viewed the expanse before me with 
anguish, when suddenly my eye caught a dark speck upon 
the dusky plain. I strained my sight to discover what it could 
be, and uttered a wild cry of ecstacy when I distinguished a 
sledge, and the distorted proportions of a well-known form 
within. Oh! with what a burning gush did hope revisit my 
heart! warm tears filled my eyes, which I hastily wiped away, 
that they might not intercept the view I had of the daemon; 
but still my sight was dimmed by the burning drops, until, 
giving way to the emotions that oppressed me, I wept aloud. 

But this was not the time for delay; I disencumbered the 
dogs of their dead companion, gave them a plentiful portion 
of food; and, after an hour's rest, which was absolutely nec- 
essary, and yet which was bitterly irksome to me, I continued 
my route. The sledge was still visible; nor did I again lose 
sight of it, except at the moments when for a short time some 
ice rock concealed it with its intervening crags. I indeed 
perceptibly gained on it; and when, after nearly two days' 
journey, I beheld my enemy at no more than a mile distant, 
my heart bounded within me. 

But now, when I appeared almost within grasp of my 
enemy, my hopes were suddenly extinguished, and I lost 
all trace of him more utterly than I had ever done before. 
A ground sea was heard; the thunder of its progress, as 
the waters rolled and swelled beneath me, became every 
moment more ominous and terrific. I pressed on, but in 
vain. The wind arose; the sea roared; and, as with the 
mighty shock of an earthquake, it split, and cracked with a 

Chapter VII 241 

tremendous and overwhelming sound. The work was soon 
finished: in a few minutes a tumultuous sea rolled between 
me and my enemy, and I was left drifting on a scattered piece 
of ice, that was continually lessening, and thus preparing for 
me a hideous death. 

In this manner many appalling hours passed; several 
of my dogs died; and I myself was about to sink under the 
accumulation of distress, when I saw your vessel riding at 
anchor, and holding forth to me hopes of succour and life. I 
had no conception that vessels ever came so far north, and 
was astounded at the sight. I quickly destroyed part of my 
sledge to construct oars; and by these means was enabled, 
with infinite fatigue, to move my ice-raft in the direction of 
your ship. I had determined, if you were going southward, 
still to trust myself to the mercy of the seas, rather than 
abandon my purpose. I hoped to induce you to grant me 
a boat with which I could still pursue my enemy. But your 
direction was northward. You took me on board when my 
vigour was exhausted, and I should soon have sunk under 
my multiplied hardships into a death, which I still dread, — 
for my task is unfulfilled. 

Oh! when will my guiding spirit, in conducting me to the 
daamon, allow me the rest I so much desire; or must I die, 
and he yet live? If I do, swear to me, Walton, that he shall not 
escape; that you will seek him, and satisfy my vengeance in 
his death. Yet, do I dare ask you to undertake my pilgrimage, 
to endure the hardships that I have undergone? No; I am 
not so selfish. Yet, when I am dead, if he should appear; 
if the ministers of vengeance should conduct him to you, 
swear that he shall not live — swear that he shall not triumph 
over my accumulated woes, and live to make another such a 
wretch as I am. He is eloquent and persuasive; and once his 
words had even power over my heart: but trust him not. His 

242 Chapter VII 

soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery and fiend-like 
malice. Hear him not; call on the manes of William, Justine, 
Clerval, Elizabeth, my father, and of the wretched Victor, and 
thrust your sword into his heart. I will hover near, and direct 
the steel aright. 

Walton, in continuation. 

August 26th, 17—. 

You have read this strange and terrific story, Margaret; and 
do you not feel your blood congealed with horror, like that 
which even now curdles mine? Sometimes, seized with sud- 
den agony, he could not continue his tale; at others, his 
voice broken, yet piercing, uttered with difficulty the words 
so replete with agony. His fine and lovely eyes were now 
lighted up with indignation, now subdued to downcast sorrow, 
and quenched in infinite wretchedness. Sometimes he com- 
manded his countenance and tones, and related the most 
horrible incidents with a tranquil voice, suppressing every 
mark of agitation; then, like a volcano bursting forth, his face 
would suddenly change to an expression of the wildest rage, 
as he shrieked out imprecations on his persecutor. 

His tale is connected, and told with an appearance of the 
simplest truth; yet I own to you that the letters of Felix and 
Safie, which he shewed me, and the apparition of the mon- 
ster, seen from our ship, brought to me a greater conviction 
of the truth of his narrative than his asseverations, however 
earnest and connected. Such a monster has then really 
existence; I cannot doubt it; yet I am lost in surprise and 
admiration. Sometimes I endeavoured to gain from Franken- 
stein the particulars of his creature's formation; but on this 
point he was impenetrable. 

"Are you mad, my friend?" said he, "or whither does your 
senseless curiosity lead you? Would you also create for 

Chapter VII 243 

yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy? Or to what do 
your questions tend? Peace, peace! learn my miseries, and 
do not seek to increase your own." 

Frankenstein discovered that I made notes concerning 
his history: he asked to see them, and then himself corrected 
and augmented them in many places; but principally in giving 
the life and spirit to the conversations he held with his enemy. 
"Since you have preserved my narration," said he, "I would 
not that a mutilated one should go down to posterity." 

Thus has a week passed away, while I have listened to 
the strangest tale that ever imagination formed. My thoughts, 
and every feeling of my soul, have been drunk up by the 
interest for my guest, which this tale, and his own elevated 
and gentle manners have created. I wish to soothe him; 
yet can I counsel one so infinitely miserable, so destitute of 
every hope of consolation, to live? Oh, no! the only joy that 
he can now know will be when he composes his shattered 
feelings to peace and death. Yet he enjoys one comfort, the 
offspring of solitude and delirium: he believes, that, when in 
dreams he holds converse with his friends, and derives from 
that communion consolation for his miseries, or excitements 
to his vengeance, that they are not the creations of his fancy, 
but the real beings who visit him from the regions of a remote 
world. This faith gives a solemnity to his reveries that render 
them to me almost as imposing and interesting as truth. 

Our conversations are not always confined to his own 
history and misfortunes. On every point of general literature 
he displays unbounded knowledge, and a quick and piercing 
apprehension. His eloquence is forcible and touching; nor 
can I hear him, when he relates a pathetic incident, or en- 
deavours to move the passions of pity or love, without tears. 
What a glorious creature must he have been in the days of 
his prosperity, when he is thus noble and godlike in ruin. He 

244 Chapter VII 

seems to feel his own worth, and the greatness of his fall. 

"When younger," said he, "I felt as if I were destined for 
some great enterprise. My feelings are profound; but I pos- 
sessed a coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious 
achievements. This sentiment of the worth of my nature 
supported me, when others would have been oppressed; 
for I deemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those 
talents that might be useful to my fellow-creatures. When I 
reflected on the work I had completed, no less a one than 
the creation of a sensitive and rational animal, I could not 
rank myself with the herd of common projectors. But this 
feeling, which supported me in the commencement of my 
career, now serves only to plunge me lower in the dust. All 
my speculations and hopes are as nothing; and, like the 
archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an 
eternal hell. My imagination was vivid, yet my powers of 
analysis and application were intense; by the union of these 
qualities I conceived the idea, and executed the creation of 
a man. Even now I cannot recollect, without passion, my 
reveries while the work was incomplete. I trod heaven in 
my thoughts, now exulting in my powers, now burning with 
the idea of their effects. From my infancy I was imbued with 
high hopes and a lofty ambition; but how am I sunk! Oh! 
my friend, if you had known me as I once was, you would 
not recognize me in this state of degradation. Despondency 
rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed to bear me 
on, until I fell, never, never again to rise." 

Must I then lose this admirable being? I have longed for 
a friend; I have sought one who would sympathize with and 
love me. Behold, on these desert seas I have found such 
a one; but, I fear, I have gained him only to know his value, 
and lose him. I would reconcile him to life, but he repulses 
the idea. 

Chapter VII 245 

"I thank you, Walton," he said, "for your kind intentions to- 
wards so miserable a wretch; but when you speak of new ties, 
and fresh affections, think you that any can replace those 
who are gone? Can any man be to me as Clerval was; or any 
woman another Elizabeth? Even where the affections are not 
strongly moved by any superior excellence, the companions 
of our childhood always possess a certain power over our 
minds, which hardly any later friend can obtain. They know 
our infantine dispositions, which, however they may be after- 
wards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge of 
our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity 
of our motives. A sister or a brother can never, unless indeed 
such symptoms have been shewn early, suspect the other of 
fraud or false dealing, when another friend, however strongly 
he may be attached, may, in spite of himself, be invaded with 
suspicion. But I enjoyed friends, dear not only through habit 
and association, but from their own merits; and, wherever I 
am, the soothing voice of my Elizabeth, and the conversation 
of Clerval, will be ever whispered in my ear. They are dead; 
and but one feeling in such a solitude can persuade me to 
preserve my life. If I were engaged in any high undertaking 
or design, fraught with extensive utility to my fellow-creatures, 
then could I live to fulfil it. But such is not my destiny; I must 
pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence; then 
my lot on earth will be fulfilled, and I may die." 

September 2d. 

I write to you, encompassed by peril, and ignorant wh- 
ether I am ever doomed to see again dear England, and the 
dearer friends that inhabit it. I am surrounded by mountains 
of ice, which admit of no escape, and threaten every moment 

246 Chapter VII 

to crush my vessel. The brave fellows, whom I have per- 
suaded to be my companions, look towards me for aid; but I 
have none to bestow. There is something terribly appalling 
in our situation, yet my courage and hopes do not desert me. 
We may survive; and if we do not, I will repeat the lessons of 
my Seneca, and die with a good heart. 

Yet what, Margaret, will be the state of your mind? You 
will not hear of my destruction, and you will anxiously await 
my return. Years will pass, and you will have visitings of 
despair, and yet be tortured by hope. Oh! my beloved sister, 
the sickening failings of your heart-felt expectations are, in 
prospect, more terrible to me than my own death. But you 
have a husband, and lovely children; you may be happy: 
heaven bless you, and make you so! 

My unfortunate guest regards me with the tenderest com- 
passion. He endeavours to fill me with hope; and talks as if 
life were a possession which he valued. He reminds me how 
often the same accidents have happened to other navigators, 
who have attempted this sea, and, in spite of myself, he fills 
me with cheerful auguries. Even the sailors feel the power 
of his eloquence: when he speaks, they no longer despair; 
he rouses their energies, and, while they hear his voice, they 
believe these vast mountains of ice are mole-hills, which will 
vanish before the resolutions of man. These feelings are 
transitory; each day's expectation delayed fills them with fear, 
and I almost dread a mutiny caused by this despair. 

September 5th. 

A scene has just passed of such uncommon interest, that 
although it is highly probable that these papers may never 
reach you, yet I cannot forbear recording it. 

We are still surrounded by mountains of ice, still in immi- 
nent danger of being crushed in their conflict. The cold is ex- 

Chapter VII 247 

cessive, and many of my unfortunate comrades have already 
found a grave amidst this scene of desolation. Frankenstein 
has daily declined in health: a feverish fire still glimmers in his 
eyes; but he is exhausted, and, when suddenly roused to any 
exertion, he speedily sinks again into apparent lifelessness. 

I mentioned in my last letter the fears I entertained of 
a mutiny. This morning, as I sat watching the wan counte- 
nance of my friend — his eyes half closed, and his limbs 
hanging listlessly, — I was roused by half a dozen of the 
sailors, who desired admission into the cabin. They entered; 
and their leader addressed me. He told me that he and his 
companions had been chosen by the other sailors to come in 
deputation to me, to make me a demand, which, in justice, I 
could not refuse. We were immured in ice, and should proba- 
bly never escape; but they feared that if, as was possible, the 
ice should dissipate, and a free passage be opened, I should 
be rash enough to continue my voyage, and lead them into 
fresh dangers, after they might happily have surmounted this. 
They desired, therefore, that I should engage with a solemn 
promise, that if the vessel should be freed, I would instantly 
direct my coarse southward. 

This speech troubled me. I had not despaired; nor had I 
yet conceived the idea of returning, if set free. Yet could I, in 
justice, or even in possibility, refuse this demand? I hesitated 
before I answered; when Frankenstein, who had at first been 
silent, and, indeed, appeared hardly to have force enough 
to attend, now roused himself; his eyes sparkled, and his 
cheeks flushed with momentary vigour. Turning towards the 
men, he said — 

"What do you mean? What do you demand of your 
captain? Are you then so easily turned from your design? 
Did you not call this a glorious expedition? and wherefore 
was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid 

248 Chapter VII 

as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and 
terror; because, at every new incident, your fortitude was to 
be called forth, and your courage exhibited; because danger 
and death surrounded, and these dangers you were to brave 
and overcome. For this was it a glorious, for this was it an 
honourable undertaking. You were hereafter to be hailed 
as the benefactors of your species; your name adored, as 
belonging to brave men who encountered death for honour 
and the benefit of mankind. And now, behold, with the first 
imagination of danger, or, if you will, the first mighty and 
terrific trial of your courage, you shrink away, and are content 
to be handed down as men who had not strength enough to 
endure cold and peril; and so, poor souls, they were chilly, 
and returned to their warm fire-sides. Why, that requires 
not this preparation; ye need not have come thus far, and 
dragged your captain to the shame of a defeat, merely to 
prove yourselves cowards. Oh! be men, or be more than 
men. Be steady to your purposes, and firm as a rock. This 
ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts might be; it is 
mutable, cannot withstand you, if you say that it shall not. 
Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace 
marked on your brows. Return as heroes who have fought 
and conquered, and who know not what it is to turn their 
backs on the foe." 

He spoke this with a voice so modulated to the different 
feelings expressed in his speech, with an eye so full of lofty 
design and heroism, that can you wonder that these men 
were moved. They looked at one another, and were unable 
to reply. I spoke; I told them to retire, and consider of what 
had been said: that I would not lead them further north, if 
they strenuously desired the contrary; but that I hoped that, 
with reflection, their courage would return. 

They retired, and I turned towards my friend; but he was 

Chapter VII 249 

sunk in languor, and almost deprived of life. 

How all this will terminate, I know not; but I had rather 
die, than return shamefully, — my purpose unfulfilled. Yet 
I fear such will be my fate; the men, unsupported by ideas 
of glory and honour, can never willingly continue to endure 
their present hardships. 

September 7th. 

The die is cast; I have consented to return, if we are not 
destroyed. Thus are my hopes blasted by cowardice and in- 
decision; I come back ignorant and disappointed. It requires 
more philosophy than I possess, to bear this injustice with 

September 12th. 

It is past; I am returning to England. I have lost my 
hopes of utility and glory; — I have lost my friend. But I will 
endeavour to detail these bitter circumstances to you, my 
dear sister; and, while I am wafted towards England, and 
towards you, I will not despond. 

September 19th, the ice began to move, and roarings like 
thunder were heard at a distance, as the islands split and 
cracked in every direction. We were in the most imminent 
peril; but, as we could only remain passive, my chief atten- 
tion was occupied by my unfortunate guest, whose illness 
increased in such a degree, that he was entirely confined 
to his bed. The ice cracked behind us, and was driven with 
force towards the north; a breeze sprung from the west, and 
on the 11th the passage towards the south became per- 
fectly free. When the sailors saw this, and that their return 
to their native country was apparently assured, a shout of 

250 Chapter VII 

tumultuous joy broke from them, loud and long-continued. 
Frankenstein, who was dozing, awoke, and asked the cause 
of the tumult. "They shout," I said, "because they will soon 
return to England." 

"Do you then really return?" 

"Alas! yes; I cannot withstand their demands. I cannot 
lead them unwillingly to danger, and I must return." 

"Do so, if you will; but I will not. You may give up your pur- 
pose; but mine is assigned to me by heaven, and I dare not. 
I am weak; but surely the spirits who assist my vengeance 
will endow me with sufficient strength." Saying this, he en- 
deavoured to spring from the bed, but the exertion was too 
great for him; he fell back, and fainted. 

It was long before he was restored; and I often thought 
that life was entirely extinct. At length he opened his eyes, 
but he breathed with difficulty, and was unable to speak. The 
surgeon gave him a composing draught, and ordered us to 
leave him undisturbed. In the mean time he told me, that my 
friend had certainly not many hours to live. 

His sentence was pronounced; and I could only grieve, 
and be patient. I sat by his bed watching him; his eyes 
were closed, and I thought he slept; but presently he called 
to me in a feeble voice, and, bidding me come near, said 
— "Alas! the strength I relied on is gone; I feel that I shall 
soon die, and he, my enemy and persecutor, may still be 
in being. Think not, Walton, that in the last moments of 
my existence I feel that burning hatred, and ardent desire 
of revenge, I once expressed, but I feel myself justified in 
desiring the death of my adversary. During these last days I 
have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I 
find it blameable. In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a 
rational creature, and was bound towards him, to assure, as 
far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being. This 

Chapter VII 251 

was my duty; but there was another still paramount to that. 
My duties towards my fellow-creatures had greater claims to 
my attention, because they included a greater proportion of 
happiness or misery. Urged by this view, I refused, and I did 
right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature. 
He shewed unparalleled malignity and selfishness, in evil: he 
destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who 
possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor 
do I know where this thirst for vengeance may end. Miserable 
himself, that he may render no other wretched, he ought to 
die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed. 
When actuated by selfish and vicious motives, I asked you 
to undertake my unfinished work; and I renew this request 
now, when I am only induced by reason and virtue. 

"Yet I cannot ask you to renounce your country and 
friends, to fulfil this task; and now, that you are returning 
to England, you will have little chance of meeting with him. 
But the consideration of these points, and the well-balancing 
of what you may esteem your duties, I leave to you; my judg- 
ment and ideas are already disturbed by the near approach 
of death. I dare not ask you to do what I think right, for I may 
still be misled by passion. 

"That he should live to be an instrument of mischief dis- 
turbs me; in other respects this hour, when I momentarily 
expect my release, is the only happy one which I have en- 
joyed for several years. The forms of the beloved dead flit 
before me, and I hasten to their arms. Farewell, Walton! 
Seek happiness in tranquillity, and avoid ambition, even if it 
be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing your- 
self in science and discoveries. Yet why do I say this? I 
have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may 

His voice became fainter as he spoke; and at length, 

252 Chapter VII 

exhausted by his effort, he sunk into silence. About half 
an hour afterwards he attempted again to speak, but was 
unable; he pressed my hand feebly, and his eyes closed for 
ever, while the irradiation of a gentle smile passed away from 
his lips. 

Margaret, what comment can I make on the untimely ex- 
tinction of this glorious spirit? What can I say, that will enable 
you to understand the depth of my sorrow? All that I should 
express would be inadequate and feeble. My tears flow; my 
mind is overshadowed by a cloud of disappointment. But I 
journey towards England, and I may there find consolation. 

I am interrupted. What do these sounds portend? It is 
midnight; the breeze blows fairly, and the watch on deck 
scarcely stir. Again; there is a sound as of a human voice, 
but hoarser; it comes from the cabin where the remains of 
Frankenstein still lie. I must arise, and examine. Good night, 
my sister. 

Great God! what a scene has just taken place! I am yet 
dizzy with the remembrance of it. I hardly know whether I 
shall have the power to detail it; yet the tale which I have 
recorded would be incomplete without this final and wonder- 
ful catastrophe. 

I entered the cabin, where lay the remains of my ill-fated 
and admirable friend. Over him hung a form which I cannot 
find words to describe; gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and 
distorted in its proportions. As he hung over the coffin, his 
face was concealed by long locks of ragged hair; but one vast 
hand was extended, in colour and apparent texture like that 
of a mummy. When he heard the sound of my approach, he 
ceased to utter exclamations of grief and horror, and sprung 
towards the window. Never did I behold a vision so horrible 
as his face, of such loathsome, yet appalling hideousness. 
I shut my eyes involuntarily, and endeavoured to recollect 

Chapter VII 253 

what were my duties with regard to this destroyer. I called on 
him to stay. 

He paused, looking on me with wonder; and, again turn- 
ing towards the lifeless form of his creator, he seemed to 
forget my presence, and every feature and gesture seemed 
instigated by the wildest rage of some uncontrollable pas- 

"That is also my victim!" he exclaimed; "in his murder 
my crimes are consummated; the miserable series of my 
being is wound to its close! Oh, Frankenstein! generous and 
self-devoted being! what does it avail that I now ask thee to 
pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying 
all thou lovedst. Alas! he is cold; he may not answer me." 

His voice seemed suffocated; and my first impulses, 
which had suggested to me the duty of obeying the dying 
request of my friend, in destroying his enemy, were now 
suspended by a mixture of curiosity and compassion. I ap- 
proached this tremendous being; I dared not again raise my 
looks upon his face, there was something so scaring and 
unearthly in his ugliness. I attempted to speak, but the words 
died away on my lips. The monster continued to utter wild 
and incoherent self-reproaches. At length I gathered resolu- 
tion to address him, in a pause of the tempest of his passion: 
"Your repentance," I said, "is now superfluous. If you had 
listened to the voice of conscience, and heeded the stings of 
remorse, before you had urged your diabolical vengeance to 
this extremity, Frankenstein would yet have lived." 

"And do you dream?" said the daemon; "do you think 
that I was then dead to agony and remorse? — He," he 
continued, pointing to the corpse, "he suffered not more in 
the consummation of the deed; — oh! not the ten-thousandth 
portion of the anguish that was mine during the lingering 
detail of its execution. A frightful selfishness hurried me on, 

254 Chapter VII 

while my heart was poisoned with remorse. Think ye that 
the groans of Clerval were music to my ears? My heart was 
fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy; and, when 
wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the 
violence of the change without torture such as you cannot 
even imagine. 

"After the murder of Clerval, I returned to Switzerland, 
heart-broken and overcome. I pitied Frankenstein; my pity 
amounted to horror: I abhorred myself. But when I discov- 
ered that he, the author at once of my existence and of its 
unspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; that 
while he accumulated wretchedness and despair upon me, 
he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from 
the indulgence of which I was for ever barred, then impotent 
envy and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst 
for vengeance. I recollected my threat, and resolved that 
it should be accomplished. I knew that I was preparing for 
myself a deadly torture; but I was the slave, not the master 
of an impulse, which I detested, yet could not disobey. Yet 
when she died! — nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast 
off all feeling, subdued all anguish to riot in the excess of my 
despair. Evil thenceforth became my good. Urged thus far, I 
had no choice but to adapt my nature to an element which 
I had willingly chosen. The completion of my demoniacal 
design became an insatiable passion. And now it is ended; 
there is my last victim!" 

I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; 
yet when I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his 
powers of eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast 
my eyes on the lifeless form of my friend, indignation was 
re-kindled within me. "Wretch!" I said, "it is well that you 
come here to whine over the desolation that you have made. 
You throw a torch into a pile of buildings, and when they 

Chapter VII 255 

are consumed you sit among the ruins, and lament the fall. 
Hypocritical fiend! if he whom you mourn still lived, still would 
he be the object, again would he become the prey of your 
accursed vengeance. It is not pity that you feel; you lament 
only because the victim of your malignity is withdrawn from 
your power." 

"Oh, it is not thus — not thus," interrupted the being; 
"yet such must be the impression conveyed to you by what 
appears to be the purport of my actions. Yet I seek not a 
fellow-feeling in my misery. No sympathy may I ever find. 
When I first sought it, it was the love of virtue, the feelings 
of happiness and affection with which my whole being over- 
flowed, that I wished to be participated. But now, that virtue 
has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affec- 
tion are turned into bitter and loathing despair, in what should 
I seek for sympathy? I am content to suffer alone, while my 
sufferings shall endure: when I die, I am well satisfied that 
abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory. Once 
my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of 
enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings, who, 
pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excel- 
lent qualities which I was capable of bringing forth. I was 
nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But 
now vice has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No 
crime, no mischief, no malignity, no misery, can be found 
comparable to mine. When I call over the frightful catalogue 
of my deeds, I cannot believe that I am he whose thoughts 
were once filled with sublime and transcendant visions of 
the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; 
the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that 
enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his 
desolation; I am quite alone. 

"You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have 

256 Chapter VII 

a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But, in the 
detail which he gave you of them, he could not sum up the 
hours and months of misery which I endured, wasting in 
impotent passions. For whilst I destroyed his hopes, I did 
not satisfy my own desires. They were for ever ardent and 
craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still 
spurned. Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought 
the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? 
Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his 
door with contumely? Why do you not execrate the rustic 
who sought to destroy the saviour of his child? Nay, these 
are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and the 
abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, 
and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection 
of this injustice. 

"But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the 
lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they 
slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me 
or any other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select 
specimen of all that is worthy of love and admiration among 
men, to misery; I have pursued him even to that irremediable 
ruin. There he lies, white and cold in death. You hate me; 
but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard 
myself. I look on the hands which executed the deed; I think 
on the heart in which the imagination of it was conceived, 
and long for the moment when they will meet my eyes, when 
it will haunt my thoughts, no more. 

"Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief. 
My work is nearly complete. Neither your's nor any man's 
death is needed to consummate the series of my being, and 
accomplish that which must be done; but it requires my own. 
Do not think that I shall be slow to perform this sacrifice. 
I shall quit your vessel on the ice-raft which brought me 

Chapter VII 257 

hither, and shall seek the most northern extremity of the 
globe; I shall collect my funeral pile, and consume to ashes 
this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to 
any curious and unhallowed wretch, who would create such 
another as I have been. I shall die. I shall no longer feel the 
agonies which now consume me, or be the prey of feelings 
unsatisfied, yet unquenched. He is dead who called me into 
being; and when I shall be no more, the very remembrance 
of us both will speedily vanish. I shall no longer see the sun 
or stars, or feel the winds play on my cheeks. Light, feeling, 
and sense, will pass away; and in this condition must I find 
my happiness. Some years ago, when the images which this 
world affords first opened upon me, when I felt the cheering 
warmth of summer, and heard the rustling of the leaves and 
the chirping of the birds, and these were all to me, I should 
have wept to die; now it is my only consolation. Polluted by 
crimes, and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find 
rest but in death? 

"Farewell! I leave you, and in you the last of human kind 
whom these eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein! 
If thou wert yet alive, and yet cherished a desire of revenge 
against me, it would be better satiated in my life than in my 
destruction. But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinction, 
that I might not cause greater wretchedness; and if yet, in 
some mode unknown to me, thou hast not yet ceased to 
think and feel, thou desirest not my life for my own misery. 
Blasted as thou wert, my agony was still superior to thine; 
for the bitter sting of remorse may not cease to rankle in my 
wounds until death shall close them for ever. 

"But soon," he cried, with sad and solemn enthusiasm, "I 
shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these 
burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile 
triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. 

258 Chapter VII 

The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will 
be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in 
peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell." 

He sprung from the cabin-window, as he said this, upon 
the ice-raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne 
away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance.